This year's heat and dry conditions are threatening to make it a bad one in terms of West Nile virus, according to public health sources.
And on Monday, the threat became concrete.
The North Shore Mosquito Abatement District found the first sample of mosquitoes that tested positive for West Nile.
The sample contained mosquitoes caught in a trap at the wetlands near the river on Howard Street in Niles, just roughly five miles south of Glenview.
It was lab tested Tuesday and found positive for the virus.
"This will be a bad year for West Nile," said Dwight Roepenack, the Village of Niles' health inspector, who said positive samples are not usually found until the end of June or early July.
"The hazard is earlier, so therefore there might be more cases this year," he explained.
Last year, there were 34 cases of West Nile in Illinois, and three human deaths. But Roepenack fears the conditions this year may produce another 2005, which saw a frighteningly high 252 cases of the disease, and 12 human deaths in the state.
While most people associate mosquitoes with rainy, humid or moist conditions, Roepenack said it's not that simple. There are two basic types of mosquitoes:
- Aedes vexans, the nuisance mosquito, breeds well in rainy conditions. You can usually feel this mosquito biting, and while it's annoying, it doesn't carry West Nile virus.
- Culex pipiens, the common house mosquito, breeds in dry weather in any standing water, such as bird baths, old tires and down in catch basins or sewers. This is the mosquito that carries West Nile, and transmits it by biting. Humans often aren't aware it's biting.
In this area, the North Shore Mosquito Abatement District includes east Glenview. Both agencies monitor mosquito populations for disease, and conduct spraying to kill mosquitoes.
The Centers for Disease Control recommends that everyone follow these prevention tips:
- Wear insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or lemon eucalyptus oil.
- Empty containers on your property that could collect water and let it stand stagnant.
- Install or repair window and door screens.
- Support moquito abatement programs.