According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, West Nile activity in mosquitoes and birds continues to increase in Illinois. The illness can pose a serious health risk, particularly for people age 50 and older.
“It is important to take precautions in order to protect yourself and your family,” said Teresa Zembower, MD, infectious disease expert at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “A hot summer like we are experiencing increases mosquito activity and the risk of infection.”
Zembower suggests applying an insect repellent that has been registered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) when outdoors. She also recommends wearing protective clothing with long-sleeves and long-pants while doing chores such as gardening, and removing any puddles or stagnant water around your home.
West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 80 percent of people infected with West Nile Virus never show symptoms, but some may become ill three to 15 days after the bite from an infected mosquito. Illness from West Nile is usually mild and includes fever, headache and body aches, but serious illness, such as encephalitis and meningitis, and death are possible.
For more information about West Nile Virus and precautions you can take, visit the Illinois Department of Public Health online.
For more information about Northwestern Memorial or to make an appointment please visit www.nmh.org or call 312-926-0779.