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First Case of West Nile Virus Reported in Evanston

Health officials say the case of West Nile Virus identified in Evanston is the third such case reported in Illinois this year.

A 57-year-old Evanston resident has been diagnosed with West Nile Virus, the first case of the mosquito-borne disease in the city, according to the health department.

The Evanston resident is among the first few people to be diagnosed with West Nile Virus in Illinois this year, following who was hospitalized last week.

Confirmed by a lab test conducted by the Illinois Department of Public Health, 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: 

  • 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.

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