Lake County News Release
May 10, 2012

Leslie Piotrowski
(847) 377-8055

Carolyn Waller

 (847) 377-8099

Lake County Health Department

Health Department Activates West Nile Virus Hotline
The Lake County Health Department/Community Health Center is urging residents to protect themselves against West Nile virus.  West Nile virus is contracted from the bite of a mosquito infected with the virus.  

"While no human cases of the disease were reported in Lake County last year, several cases were reported in northeast Illinois, which serves as a reminder that it is still important for residents to protect themselves against West Nile virus," said Irene Pierce, the Health Department's Executive Director. "We can do this by protecting ourselves against mosquito bites and ensuring that the environment around us is not conducive to mosquito breeding."

The Health Department has re-activated the West Nile virus hotline for county residents to report dead birds, report areas of stagnant water (which are conducive to mosquito breeding), or to obtain more information on the signs and symptoms of West Nile encephalitis. The West Nile virus hotline number is: (847) 377-8300.

The Health Department has begun collecting a limited number of dead birds for testing. The Health Department will contact you if the bird you report is needed for testing. All other dead birds will not be collected by the Health Department. It is recommended that dead birds be disposed of by placing the bird in a plastic bag. Either double bag or tightly secure the bag and place it in your regular garbage. Dead birds cannot spread West Nile virus. The information residents provide is very important and will be used to monitor West Nile virus in the county and identify any problem areas that exist. The Health Department will share this information with municipalities and townships.  

The Health Department is operating 22 mosquito monitoring sites and reviewing data from other sites throughout the county to identify "hot spots" for the mosquito that carries WNV. The Department will also conduct investigations to identify potential mosquito breeding areas in and around underdeveloped or abandoned residential building sites and swimming pools in certain areas of the county.

The Health Department is urging residents to prevent mosquito breeding and to prevent mosquito bites. Recommendations to prevent mosquito breeding include:

*    Discard old tires, buckets, drums or any water holding containers.  Poke holes in tires used as
     bumpers at docks.
*    Keep roof gutters and downspouts clear of debris.
*    Keep trash containers covered.
*    Empty plastic wading pools at least once a week and store indoors when not in use.
*    Drain unused swimming pools.
*    Fill in tree rot holes and remove hollow stumps that hold water.
*    Change the water in bird baths and plant urns at least once a week.
*    Store boats upside down or drain rainwater weekly.

Recommendations to prevent mosquito bites include:

*    Whenever possible, limit outdoor activity at dusk.
*    Wear light-colored clothing that minimizes exposed skin and provides some protection from
     mosquito bites.
*    Make sure door and window screens fit tightly and that all holes are repaired.
*    Whenever applying mosquito repellent to exposed skin, always follow label directions. The most
     effective repellents contain DEET, which is an ingredient used to repel mosquitoes and ticks. The
     more DEET a repellent contains the longer time it can protect you from mosquito bites. A higher
     percentage of DEET in a repellent does not mean that your protection is better, just that it will last
     longer. A recent study indicated that a product containing 23.8 percent DEET provided an average
     of five hours of protection from mosquito bites; a product containing 20 percent DEET provided
     almost four hours of protection; and products with less than 10 percent DEET offered limited
     protection of one to two hours.
*    No definitive studies exist in the scientific literature about what concentration of DEET is safe for
     children. No serious illness has been linked to the use of DEET in children when used according
     to product recommendations. The American Academy of Pediatrics and other experts suggest
     that it is acceptable to apply repellent from less than 10 percent to 30 percent concentrations of
     DEET to infants over two months old. Other guidelines cite it is acceptable to use repellents
     containing DEET on children over two years of age. Parents should choose the type and
     concentration of repellent to be used by taking into account the amount of time that a child will be
     outdoors, exposure to mosquitoes, and the risk of mosquito-transmitted disease in the area.
*    Persons who are concerned about using DEET or other products on children may wish to consult
     their health care provider for advice. The National Pesticide Information Center can also provide
     information through a toll-free number: 1-800-858-7378 or at http://npic.orst.edu. There are no
     reported adverse events following use of repellents containing DEET in pregnant or breastfeeding
*    DEET-free alternatives approved by the CDC include products containing Picaridin (KBR 3023).
     Whenever possible, avoid application of repellent to bare skin, applying only to clothing.

While most people infected with WNV have no symptoms of illness, some may become ill, usually three to 15 days after the bite of an infected mosquito. The virus may occasionally cause serious complications. In some individuals, particularly the elderly, the virus can cause muscle weakness, stiff neck, inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), stupor, disorientation, tremors, convulsions, paralysis, coma or death. Information about WNV can be found on the Department's Web site at: http://www.lakecountyil.gov/Health/resources/Pages/WNV.aspx.

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