Mosquitoes in Lake County test positive for West Nile virus

Batch in Highland Park is first confirmed indicator of West Nile in Lake County this year

West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird.

WAUKEGAN – A batch of mosquitoes sampled June 12 in Highland Park has tested positive for West Nile virus. The mosquito pool is the first confirmed indicator of West Nile virus in Lake County this year.

“We expect mosquitoes every summer, but it’s important to remember that they can also carry diseases like West Nile virus,” said Mark Pfister, executive director of the Lake County Health Department and Community Health Center. “We can take steps to ‘Fight the Bite’ to protect ourselves and our families from a potentially deadly disease.”

Practice the “4 Ds of Defense” to protect yourself and your family from mosquitoes:

Drain: Drain standing water from items around your home, yard and business.

Defend: When outdoors, use an insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, 2-undecanone or IR3535 and reapply according to label directions.

Dawn and Dusk: Protect yourself all day and night and wear repellent outdoors during these prime times for mosquito activity.

Dress: Wear long sleeves, pants and closed toe shoes when outdoors to cover your skin.

Culex pipiens mosquitoes, which are the primary carriers of West Nile virus, are most abundant when the weather is dry and hot. Residents can help prevent these mosquitoes from breeding by eliminating areas of stagnant water from their properties. Items such as buckets, gutters and plant containers, kiddie pools and any other items holding water around homes and businesses can become breeding sites.

The Lake County Health Department’s Mosquito Surveillance Program coordinates mosquito trapping results throughout Lake County. Mosquitoes are tested weekly for West Nile virus. The program also monitors reports of dead birds (an early sign of the presence of the virus) and investigates areas of stagnant water for the presence of mosquito larvae, specifically from the Culex mosquito, which is the primary carrier of West Nile in Illinois.

“With the warmer weather, people spend more time outdoors and mosquitoes become active,” said Alana Bartolai, ecological services program coordinator at the Health Department. “From late spring to fall, we set traps around Lake County and monitor weekly for this public health threat.”

In 2023, 173 out of 763 mosquito pools tested positive for West Nile virus. There was one human case of West Nile virus. Since 2002, there have been 80 confirmed human cases of West Nile virus in Lake County, as well as four confirmed deaths.

Most people infected with West Nile virus have no symptoms of illness. However, some may become ill usually three to 15 days after the bite of an infected mosquito. Common symptoms include fever, nausea, headache and muscle ache. In some individuals, severe illness including meningitis or encephalitis, or even death, can occur. People 50 and older and individuals with weakened immune systems are at higher risk for severe illness from West Nile virus.

Find more prevention tips and information on the West Nile virus at Residents also can call the Health Department’s West Nile hotline to report areas of stagnant water, report locations of dead birds and obtain more information on the signs and symptoms of West Nile virus. The West Nile hotline number is 847-377-8300.

Shaw Local News Network

Shaw Local News Network

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