A man in his 40s is the first confirmed human case of West Nile Virus in neighboring Northbrook this year, according to the Cook County Department of Public Health. The man has not been hospitalized.
No cases have been reported in Deerfield, according to Village Trustee Barbara Struthers who also sits on the board of the South Lake Mosquito Abatement District. She is urging caution in the Village.
“Just because we don’t have any cases here it doesn’t mean we don’t have to protect ourselves,” Struthers said. “This is the worst it’s been since 2002.” That was the first year the disease became widespread in the area.
Struthers cautions people to remove standing water immediately after rain and to take precautions when going outside during early morning and evening hours. “Wear light colored clothing with long sleeves,” she said.
In addition to sweeping puddles after a rain, Struthers urges people to make sure barbeques and fire pits are free of standing water. “That’s all it takes,” she said referring to what lets mosquitoes breed.
Meanwhile, Northbrook is split into two mosquito abatement districts, Northwest and North Suburban. Both districts have observed unusually high cases of West Nile among mosquitos in the area.
"Infected mosquitos are fairly widespread, this is probably one of the worst years, if not the worst year since West Nile Virus got here," said Michael Szyska, Director for the Northwest Mosquito Abatement District. "The symptoms are very flu-like. ... They can be confused with other diseases, so that's why human confirmation is required to verify that it is an actual West Nile virus case."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been 1,118 confirmed cases of West Nile nationally in humans so far in 2012 — the highest number of West Nile cases through the third week of August since the virus was virst detected in the United States in 1999.
According to David Zazra, spokesman for the North Suburban Mosquito Abatement District, there have already been two confirmed West Nile cases in and , , and a blue jay in Wilmette.
"This is probably not going to be over until we have our first, good, hard frost," Zazra said. "Because of the drought and higher temperatures, it's a real conducive environment for both the virus to replicate faster and this type of mosquito."
Zazra said Culex pipiens mosquitos tend to carry the virus.
"They're looking for any small source of standing water, and that tends to happen in drought years," Zazra said. "Whether it's people forgetting to clean their birdbath more often, dog dishes, clogged gutters on their houses, children's toys even."
People can protect themselves by wearing repellant, wearing light colored clothing that covers as much skin as possible. Zazra also recommends people avoid being outdoors around the hours of dusk and dawn.
"Anything that has the potential to be holding water is a potential breeding site," Zazra said. "Turn it over, dump out any water that you see standing now. If it's a very large area, for instance if you know of a home that has an abandoned swimming pool or the house has been on the market for an extended period of time and it's not being well maintained, let us know and we can come out and we can treat those sites."