The Lake County Health Department/Community Health Center reported Aug. 15 that a 68-year-old Buffalo Grove man tested positive for West Nile encephalitis. The man, who lives in Lake County, was hospitalized and discharged. This is the county's first human West Nile virus case since 2010.
In addition to the human case, 52 pools (batches) of mosquitoes and three birds have tested positive for West Nile virus in Lake County this year. Lake County is currently tracking ahead of its count for the year 2005, which had the highest number of positive mosquito pools and birds. That year, 167 mosquito pools, 12 birds, and 11 people tested positive for the illness and one death occurred. The Health Department is continuing to urge people to take precautions against mosquito bites.
"Protection against mosquito bites is very important right now," said Irene Pierce, the Health Department's Executive Director. "The risk for transmission of the virus is the highest it has been in years. You can protect yourself and your family by following the three R's — reduce your exposure to mosquitoes, repel them by wearing insect repellent, and report areas where mosquitoes typically breed."
Recommendations to prevent mosquito breeding include:
- Discard old tires, buckets, drums or any water holding containers. Poke holes in tires used as bumpers on docks
- Keep roof gutters and downspouts clear of debris
- Keep trash containers covered
- Empty plastic wading pools at least once a week and store indoors when not in use
- Drain unused swimming pools
- Fill in tree rot holes and hollow stumps that hold water
- Change the water in bird baths and plant urns at least once a week
- Store boats upside down or drain rainwater weekly
Recommendations to prevent mosquito bites include:
- Whenever possible, limit outdoor activity at dusk
- Wear light-colored clothing that minimizes exposed skin and provides some protection from mosquito bites
- Make sure door and window screens fit tightly and that all holes are repaired
- Apply insect repellent that includes DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR 3535 according to label instructions. Consult a physician before using repellents on infants.
To report dead birds, areas of stagnant water (which are conducive for mosquito breeding), or to obtain more information on the signs and symptoms of West Nile encephalitis, call the Health Department's West Nile virus hotline at (847) 377-8300.
Please note that the Health Department is no longer picking up dead birds this summer, but is mapping their locations to help determine areas of high West Nile virus activity. It is recommended that dead birds be disposed of by placing the bird in a plastic bag. Either double bag or tightly secure the bag and place it in your regular garbage.
While most people infected with West Nile virus have no symptoms of illness, some may become ill, usually three to 15 days after the bite of an infected mosquito. The virus may occasionally cause serious complications. In some individuals, particularly the elderly, the virus can cause muscle weakness, inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), stiff neck, stupor, disorientation, tremors, convulsions, paralysis, coma or death.
More information about West Nile virus can be found on the department's website.
— Submitted by the Lake County Health Department.