The Will County Health Department is advising residents to be wary that the extremely wet spring weather had led to a “very bad season” for mosquitoes.
The WCHD’s Environmental Health Division has 14 traps in various locations for the purpose of tracking possible West Nile virus activity among Culex mosquitoes, according to a news release from the department.
Tom Casey, the WCHD environmental health director, explained that the biggest problem is a group of floodwater mosquitoes eager to bite.
“If you take a walk right now, you can see the puddles of algae field water from all the rain,” Casey said. “Both the floodwater and Culex mosquitoes, which transport West Nile virus from infected birds to humans, have plenty of places to lay eggs right now. The big problem with Culex mosquitoes will actually come when the weather becomes hot and dry.”
WCHD sanitarian Kyle Moy added that those hot and dry days are when it becomes more crucial than ever to eliminate standing water around homes.
“People need to get in the habit right now of cleaning out their gutters and rain barrels, changing the water in their birdbaths and kiddie pools and getting rid of old tires and garbage, or even empty soda cans that collect standing water,” Moy said. “When the wetness from the rain dries up, the Culex mosquitoes especially will look for sources like that to keep laying their eggs.”
Moy’s team, including three interns every summer, is responsible for collecting mosquito samples from the 14 different traps, usually twice per week, and seeing if there is any trace of West Nile virus activity.
So far this year, one sample collected from a Plainfield trap did turn out positive, according to the release. Positive samples have been found in DuPage and Cook counties as well. Last year, there were four human cases in Will County and 176 statewide.
The WCHD Environmental Health Division also collects birds to send to a state lab to test for WNV activity, and the public is asked to help. Anyone with an intact, recently deceased bird on his or her property is asked to call the Environmental Health Division hotline at 815-740-7631.
West Nile Virus symptoms are very similar to the flu – fever, headache, body aches, swollen lymph nodes. Anyone can catch it, but those most at risk are seniors, young children and those with weakened immune systems.
For information, visit willcountyhealth.org.