Two case of West Nile Virus have been confirmed in Evanston this year, health officials say.
was reported Aug. 8, affecting a 57-year-old Evanston resident. A second case, which the city is still investigating, has been confirmed since then, environmental health division manager Carl Caneva told Patch.
"We're still working on the case itself," Caneva said. That means health officials are interviewing the person who was affected and researching where he or she might have contracted the virus. HIPAA law prohibits the city from releasing further details on the individuals who have come down with West Nile virus so far.
There are more West Nile Virus cases in the U.S. at this point in August than there ever have been since the virus was first identified in the country in 1999, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Some 1,118 cases have been confirmed in the U.S. so far, with the majority in Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, South Dakota, and Oklahoma. There are 21 cases confirmed in Illinois as of Aug. 21, the CDC reports.
The virus is transmitted when a mosquito who has been feeding on an infected bird goes on to bite a human being. Most people who are bit by an infected mosquito have no symptoms, but a few may become sick three to 15 days after being bit, according to health officials.
Symptoms may include fever, headache and body aches, and in rare cases, more serious outcomes such as encephalitis, meningitis or even death are possible. People over the age of 50 are most susceptible, health officials said.
The best way to prevent the disease is to reduce the number of mosquitoes by targeting the standing water in which they like to breed, according to Health Department Director Evonda Thomas.
“I am imploring residents to check their yards to look for any standing water," she said in the release. "Bird baths, gutters or children’s toys might collect water and serve as a breeding ground for mosquitos. Prevention is the best means of attacking West Nile virus.”
The hot, dry summer weather has been increasing the prevalence of mosquitoes and the risk of West Nile virus, according to health officials.
Evanston's Health Department recommended the following preventative measures earlier this summer:
- Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, especially between dusk and dawn.
- When outdoors, wear shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt and apply insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR 3535. Use according to label instructions. Consult a physician before using repellents on infants.
- Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens. Repair or replace screens that have tears or other openings. Try to keep doors and windows shut, especially at night.
- Eliminate all sources of standing water that can support mosquito breeding, including water in bird baths, ponds, flowerpots, wading pools, old tires and any other receptacles. Contact the North Shore Mosquito Abatement District at www.nsmad.com or 847/446-9434 to report areas of stagnant water in roadside ditches, flooded yards and similar locations that may produce mosquitoes.