The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) began the start of West Nile season in May of this year, at which time they awarded West Nile virus prevention grants totaling almost $3 million to 92 certified local health departments throughout Illinois. Over the past five years, 507 human cases, including 30 West Nile virus-related deaths, were reported in Illinois. In 2012, the IDPH reported the second highest number of West Nile’s virus human cases in state history, with 290 residents and 12 deaths.
IDPH reported the first positive mosquito batch on May 30th in Godfrey, Illinois and to date 40 have been discovered in 16 counties and only three birds have been found positive. This is probably due to the good weather we have been having. Although we have been getting a lot of rain and you probably have noticed mosquitoes, those mosquitoes are what they call floodwater mosquitoes and typically do not carry the virus. The mosquitoes that are guilty of carrying West Nile virus are the ones that come out in hot, dry weather to breed in that stagnant water that you might have in your yard or in street catch basins and ditches, really anywhere outside where water sits in waiting for baby mosquitoes. Fortunately this is July and the weather is staying cool; this is also the time all residents should start to practice the three “R's” - reduce, repel, and report, before the temperature reaches in the 80's and 90's.
Reduce - all sources of standing water where mosquitoes can breed. Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, especially between dusk and dawn.
Repel - when outdoors wear shoes and socks, long pants and long sleeve shirt, apply insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR 3535.
Report - to your municipal government, any areas were stagnant water is sitting in your surrounding area.