Chicago health authorities have stepped up their battle against West Nile virus after a batch of infected mosquitos tested positive in the area.
This is the fourth case found in the area since May. Within a month another batch tested positive in Evergreen Park. These two episodes were then followed by a third positive testing in Evanston, and now Skokie.
Anyone can get West Nile virus, but typically people over 50 years of age and those with weakened immune systems are most likely to develop severe illness. The symptoms generally appear three to 14 days after a person has been bitten by an infected mosquito.
Most people infected with the West Nile virus have no signs or symptoms. About 20 percent of people develop a mild infection called West Nile fever. Common signs and symptoms of West Nile fever include fever, headache, body ache, tiredness, skin rash and eye pain.
In less than one percent of infected people, the virus causes a serious neurological infection. Such infection may include inflammation of the brain (encephalitis).
Despite the mosquitos, so far no human cases of the virus have been reported this year.
Meanwhile, local health departments are using available communication channels to warn the local residents of the dangers of the West Nile virus. Officials are urging residents to protect themselves by avoiding outdoor activities at dusk and dawn, when mosquitos are most active. You should also wear long sleeves and pants, and use insect repellant. Homeowners should also empty anything around their homes containing standing water, which creates the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes.