The West Nile virus has been positively identified in the Chicago metropolitan area. Although there have been human cases of West Nile virus reported in Illinois, including a number of deaths, the risk for this disease remains low. However, residents of Elk Grove Village should take precautions to protect themselves against mosquito bites.
The West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has acquired the virus by feeding on an infected bird. West Nile virus cases occur primarily in the late summer and early fall. Less than 1% of people infected with West Nile virus will develop severe illness. Most people infected with West Nile virus have no symptoms of illness, some may become ill usually three (3) to fifteen (15) days after the bite of an infected mosquito.
When people do become ill, symptoms can be mild, such as a fever and headache or body aches. Occasionally an infected person may have a skin rash and/or swollen lymph glands. In some individuals, however, particularly people 50 years of age and older, West Nile virus can cause serious disease that includes muscle weakness, inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), stiff neck, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, paralysis, coma and rarely death.
Surveillance for sick and dead wild birds appears to be the best way of detecting the virus. Residents of Elk Grove who observe sick or dying birds, or find newly dead perching birds, particularly crows and blue jays, should call the Elk Grove Village Environmental Health Division at (847) 357-4240. Residents may also report dead birds electronically at http://cookcountypublichealth.org/communicable-diseases/west-nile-virus/report-dead-bird.
The following steps should be taken to reduce the risk of being bitten by mosquitoes:
- Stay indoors at dawn, dusk, and early evening when mosquitoes are most active.
- Whenever outdoors, wear shoes and socks, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt.
- Use mosquito repellent containing 35% DEET when it is necessary to be outdoors. Apply sparingly to exposed skin or clothing as indicated on the repellent label. Do not allow children to apply DEET. Consult a physician before using repellents on young children. Some children have experienced adverse health reactions after applications of DEET.
- Check residential screens, including porches and patios, for tears and other openings.
- Eliminate stagnant water in birdbaths, ponds, flowerpots, wading pools, old tires and other receptacles in which mosquitoes can breed.
- NOTE: Vitamin B and "ultrasonic" devices are not effective in preventing mosquito bites.
Mosquito abatement in Elk Grove Village is handled by a separate governmental agency, the Northwest Mosquito Abatement District. If you have concerns about concentrations of mosquitoes, mosquito spraying schedules, or to report areas of stagnant or pooling water, please call them at (847) 537-2306.