Illinois reports fewer cases of West Nile virus amid cooler summer

Illinois reported a decline in the number of West Nile virus cases so far this year amid a cooler summer.

Close to 180 cases were reported in 2018. Just 10 percent of that figure had been reported so far this year. George Balis, Midwest regional manager and entomologist with mosquito control company Clarke, provided a positive outlook on the mosquito-borne disease’s gradually decreasing presence statewide.

“We only have about 19 cases as of right now, however, we are seeing lower numbers of positive West Nile samples being collected in the state,” Balis said.

Balis attributed the drop to the cooler weather.

“Generally, the type of mosquito that carries the West Nile virus likes very warm weather and very stagnant water sources,” he said.

Larger municipalities – especially those in northeastern Illinois and the Springfield and St. Louis areas – are more prone to the virus, Balis said. There are, however, different levels of the virus throughout the state, he said.

Officials expect the number of West Nile virus cases to rise through the beginning of fall.

Balis said that Illinoisans can do more to minimize the spread of the mosquito-borne virus.

Balis advised Illinoisans to do three things: Wear mosquito repellent; reduce the presence of standing water around their homes; and make sure that their screens, doors, and windows are shut tight, especially at nighttime.

“So if you can take just a couple steps around your home and wear mosquito repellent, then you can reduce your exposure to mosquitoes … and mosquito-borne diseases like West Nile virus,” he said.

Balis said that it is hard to tell if this year will truly be better than last year in terms of the total number of reported cases, but he stressed the importance of educating others.

“If we follow the three steps … that would greatly reduce people’s exposure to the virus and reduce those cases,” he said.

According to data from the Department of Public Health, mosquitos in Warren, Henry, Mercer, and Fulton County have all tested positive for West Nile Virus since June. The most recent testing confirmed that the virus showed up in mosquitos in Farmington and in Sherrard.

Knox County has yet to report a confirmed case of West Nile Virus from mosquito testing.

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