The Illinois Department of Health reported Thursday that at least seven counties in the state have reported positive cases of West Nile virus in mosquitoes.
The first mosquitoes to test positive for West Nile virus in Illinois in 2022 were reported in May in Roselle, DuPage County.
Now, the virus has been confirmed in mosquitoes in six more counties: Cook, Will, Logan, Edgar, Macoupin and Washington, says the IDPH.
While no human cases were reported in Illinois this year, there were 64 human cases reported in 2021, with five deaths attributed to the disease.
“West Nile virus is a serious disease and we want to remind everyone to protect themselves from mosquito bites at this time of year when many of us spend more time outdoors,” said Interim IDPH Director Amaal Tokars.
“The most important things we can do is use insect repellent if we are spending time outside and eliminate standing water where mosquitoes breed around our homes.”
According to the state health department, West Nile virus is transmitted by the bite of a Culex pipiens mosquito, commonly called a domestic mosquito, which caught the virus by feeding on an infected bird.
Common symptoms of West Nile in humans include fever, nausea, headache, and muscle aches, with symptoms lasting anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.
“However, four out of five people infected with West Nile virus will not show any symptoms,” public health officials said in a statement.
“In rare cases, serious illness can occur, including meningitis, encephalitis, or even death.”
People over the age of 60 and individuals with weakened immune systems are at increased risk of serious illness from West Nile virus.
Here are some tips the IDPH offers to help keep the West Nile safe:
- Make sure the doors and windows have tight-fitting screens. Repair or replace screens with tears or other openings. Try to keep doors and windows closed.
- Eliminate, or update each week, all sources of standing water where mosquitoes can breed, including water in birdbaths, ponds, flower pots, kiddie pools, old tires, and any other containers.
- When outdoors, wear shoes and socks, long pants, and a light-colored long-sleeved shirt, and apply an EPA-registered insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, lemon eucalyptus oil, or IR 3535 as directed by the label. Consult a doctor before using repellents on babies.
- Report locations where you see stagnant water for more than a week, such as roadside ditches, flooded yards, and similar locations that can produce mosquitoes. The local health department or city government can add larvicide to the water, which will kill any mosquito larvae.
Updates on where cases have been reported can be found on IDPH’s West Nile Virus Surveillance page.