The state of Illinois and the Kane County Health Department are warning residents that summer 2019 shaping up to be one awful mosquito season if and when it finally dries out and gets a little warmer.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, the months of rain and flooding have created conditions ripe for floodwater mosquitoes, Aedes vexans.
The good news is that floodwater mosquitoes, often called nuisance mosquitoes, are not known to carry disease.
“It is important to protect yourself from insect bites, even if they are not known to cause disease,” said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “While the mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus prefer hot, dry conditions, even the mosquitoes that flourish in cooler, wet weather bring the potential for infection if you scratch a bite and create a wound. Taking some simple precautions can help keep you healthy.”
Many counties in Illinois are experiencing flooding conditions. Water that stands in flooded areas for more than 10 days has the potential to produce large numbers of floodwater mosquitoes.
Floodwater mosquitoes can travel up to 10 miles from where they breed.
Health officials say if Kane County starts to see drier weather with higher temperatures, we will start to see more mosquitoes, often referred to as house mosquitoes (Culex pipiens), that can carry West Nile virus.
Nine counties have already reported mosquitoes or birds that have tested positive for West Nile virus, including a trap in Wayne.
House mosquitoes breed in stagnant water, like street catch basins, ditches, empty flower pots, tires, and any container that holds water that is not changed weekly. In stagnant water, house mosquitoes can multiply rapidly.
West Nile Concern in Kane County
As of now, there have not been any positive mosquito pools, birds, or signs of WNV in humans in Kane County, according to a Kane County Health Department news release.
In 2018 Kane reported seven human cases and 59 positive mosquito pools. For historical statistics about WNV in Kane County, see the West Nile page of the Kane County Health Department website.
The Health Department advises residents that now is a good time to inspect their homes and yards for sources of standing water.
West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird. Most people with the virus have no clinical symptoms of illness, but some may become ill three to 14 days after the bite of an infected mosquito.
Only about two persons out of 10 who are bitten by an infected mosquito will experience any illness.
Illness from West Nile is usually mild and includes fever, headache and body aches, but serious illness, such as encephalitis and meningitis, and death are possible. Persons older than 50 years of age have the highest risk of severe disease.
The Kane County Health Department monitors for WNV activity in the county. Visit this link to view a map of the trap locations throughout the county.
The Health Department is also collecting dead birds to be sent to the state lab for testing. Please call 630-444-3040 to report the presence of freshly-dead birds (such as crows or blue jays) for WNV testing. The birds must not show any signs of decay or trauma.
Additional information about West Nile virus can be found at this page of the Illinois Department of Public Health’s website.
People also can call the IDPH West Nile Virus Hotline at 866-369-9710 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
How To Prevent West Nile
The best way to prevent West Nile disease or any other mosquito-borne illness is to reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home and to take personal precautions to avoid mosquito bites.
- Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, especially between dusk and dawn.
- When outdoors, wear shoes and socks, light colored long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, and apply insect repellent that includes DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus 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.
- Change water in birdbaths weekly.
- Properly maintain wading pools and stock ornamental ponds with fish.
- Cover rain barrels with 16-mesh wire screen.
- Contact your local government to report areas of stagnant water in roadside ditches, flooded yards and similar locations that may produce mosquitoes.
SOURCE: Kane County Health Department, Illinois Department of Public Health news release