For the 10th straight summer, investigators have turned up evidence of West Nile virus-contaminated mosquitoes in Wilmette.
Culex mosquitoes collected Aug. 8 from one pool of water in the village did test positive for the virus, according to Dave Zazra, communications manager for the North Shore Mosquito Abatement District.
It was the first positive test finding of the year for Wilmette, he said Monday. Wilmette has shown evidence of positive West Nile Virus findings every year since 2002.
On Tuesday the district announced plans to undertake insecticide spraying sweeps across most of the village on Thursday (Aug. 18) — between Winnetka Road and the village’s southern boundaries, and between the lake and the west end of the village — if the weather cooperates.
Zazra and village officials who publicized the positive finding reminded residents to take precautions against being bitten by mosquitoes, such as wearing light, loose-fitting and long-sleeved clothing when going outside, especially during dusk and dawn when Culex mosquitoes are most active.
Residents should use insect repellent when outside; repellents with the chemicals DEET or Picaridin, or that use oil of lemon eucalyptus, that are approved for use by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
Area home and property owners also were urged to practice anti-mosquito preventative measures, to help minimize the ability of the pests to breed.
“You should make sure you don’t have standing water where they can breed,” Zazra said. That includes children’s pools, tire swings, flower pots or pet bowls.
Keeping grass cut short and cleaning gutters to eliminate debris also helps reduce breeding opportunities.
West Nile virus is seasonal, usually flaring up in summer and late fall. It is carried by mosquitoes who contract it from feeding off infected birds, and then pass it on to other animals and humans.
While many people infected with the virus show no symptoms at all and don’t become ill, others can become sick three to 15 days after being bitten. Most people who become ill experience fever, headache or body aches, but more severe cases can result in high fever, stiff neck, confusion, muscle weakness and even death.
People over 50 are more apt to be seriously affected by the virus, according to health experts.
Mosquito activity in Wilmette has been high this year, in part because of the extremely wet, hot summer. Until last week, however, the Abatement District had not found evidence of infected Culex mosquitoes. Instead, district control teams fought an explosion of non-virus-carrying floodwater mosquitoes.
District teams carried out insecticide spraying sweeps across Wilmette in the first two weeks of August. The so-called “adulticiding” spraying targets adult mosquitoes for elimination. It differs from spraying mosquito larvae; larval spraying constitutes the large majority of abatement district spray schedules.
For more information on the treatment or prevention of mosquito populations, as well as for any future spraying updates, go to nsmad.com, the North Shore Mosquito Abatement District’s web page.