It’s that time of year: West Nile Virus has been detected in some mosquitos in the Chicagoland area. West Nile virus (WNV) is the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease in the continental United States. About 1 in 5 people who are infected develop a fever and other symptoms like body aches. It resembles the flu. About 1 out of 150 infected people develop a serious illness that can sometimes be fatal. It causes encephalitis or meningitis that causes inflammation of the brain and membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms include tremors, high fever, headache, muscle weakness, numbness, and even paralysis. West Nile Virus is especially dangerous to people over 60 and anyone with other health issues.
It’s best for those over 60 with health issues to avoid being out at peak mosquito times like early morning and evening. If you need to be out, wear long sleeves and pants. Use heavy duty mosquito spray like Deep Woods Off. Woods and areas with ponds and other water are especially high danger areas. Permethrin is an insecticide used to treat your clothing. Spray pants, shoes, and boots. You can also buy camping equipment, clothing, and other gear already treated with permethrin. The protection lasts through several washes.
You can keep mosquitos at bay in and out of the house with a few tips and tricks. Outside, remember water is not your friend. Mosquitos lay eggs near and in water. Make sure there are no places where standing water stays for more than 3-4 days. Use an outdoor rated insecticide around the yard, paying special attention to areas where mosquitos rest. They love dark humid areas, like under lawn furniture. It’s best to use air conditioning in the house if you are in the danger group. Keep screens in good shape. Tape around window air conditioners so mosquitos can’t get in. Now, there are companies that will spray and take care of mosquitos on your property. Even if you are not in the danger group, it’s great to be able to enjoy your backyard without pesky mosquitos.
West Nile Virus is rare but can be fatal if contracted. Following these few, simple guidelines can greatly reduce the risk of contraction.
KATHLEEN WEAVER-ZECH & DEAN’S TEAM CHICAGO