A mosquito pool in Skokie tested positive for West Nile virus this week for the first time this year, according to the Skokie Health Department.
Health officials said there have been no human cases reported so far this year, but cautioned that “this may change in the next few weeks,” according to a health department news release Wednesday.
In recent years, Skokie and surrounding areas, working with the North Shore Mosquito Abatement District, have assessed mosquito pools that have tested positive for West Nile virus. Some years, human cases have been reported in Skokie and other nearby areas as well.
In addition to Skokie, NSMAD also announced Wednesday that West Nile virus-infected mosquitoes had been found in Evanston and Morton Grove. The mosquitoes were collected between June 2 and June 5, and tested positive for the virus in the NSMAD lab June 6, according to a statement Wednesday from NSMAD.
Traps are set up throughout municipalities, including Skokie, to test mosquitoes during the warmer months, officials said.
According to NSMAD officials, the risk of being infected with West Nile virus is low this time of the year but people should still take precautions to minimize being bitten by mosquitoes.
The Skokie Health Department says that measures to reduce the risk of being bitten include staying indoors at dawn, dusk or early evening; wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors; spraying clothes with repellants and wearing protective clothing if spending time in a heavily wooded area; and applying insect repellents containing the chemical DEET sparingly on exposed skin.
“Remember, if an outdoor object can hold water, it can serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes,” health officials said in the news release.
Chances of spreading West Nile Virus can be reduced if property owners eliminate mosquito breeding areas, according to the village.
The Skokie Health Department recommends removing standing water where mosquitoes could breed, emptying plastic swimming pools, changing the water in birdbaths and planters weekly, keeping gutters cleared out, among other precaustions, according to the release.
Health Department officials said that anyone can get West Nile Virus, but people over age 50 or those with a weakened immune systems are most vulnerable.
Those who find a dead bird are asked to contact the Skokie Health Department to collect the bird for testing. Historically, some birds have tested positive for West Nile Virus, and results from testing help to determine the extent of West Nile Virus activity, officials said.