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City takes precautions against West Nile Virus

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July 31, 2012|Amanda Boleman | For RedEye

As temperatures continue to blaze on and mosquitoes become more prevalent, the Chicago Department of Public Health is continuing to take action against West Nile Virus with a spraying to kill adult mosquitoes in several communities throughout the city and urging Chicagoans to take their own common-sense precautions.

“A hot, dry summer increases the risk of West Nile Virus infection,” said Dr. Bechara Choucair, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health. “The level of virus we're finding is considerably higher than what we have seen in past years at this point in the season.”

Starting at 8 p.m. Tuesday, licensed mosquito abatement technicians will lay down a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-approved chemical called Zenivex to exterminate mosquitoes in several South Side neighborhoods, encompassing the 7th, 10th, 13th and 18th wards.

Spraying will continue on Wednesday on the North Side, including Wards 41, 36, 40, 29 and small sections of 47, 48, 50, 36, 30 and 37.

To see whether or not your area will be sprayed, click here and view the spray-zone maps under the designated dates.

"The city has a very comprehensive West Nile prevention program and has been testing mosquitoes in the city on a weekly basis," said Efrat Stein, director of public affairs for the Chicago Department of Public Health. "Based on test results, we are spraying these areas as an extra precaution and last resort." 

Currently, the risk is high with 18.7 percent out of 1,255 mosquito pools testing positive for West Nile, compared to only 1 percent at this time last year.

"While we take steps to tackle the number of mosquitos, it is incredibly important that people across the City take common-sense personal precautions as well to avoid West Nile Virus infection,” Choucair said.

Personal precautions include:

  • Using insect repellant containing DEET, Picaridin, or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus.
  • Limiting outdoor activity after dark (dusk to dawn): "Mosquito activity is highest after dark, so it is especially important that people are wearing bug spray during that time and wearing loose, light colored clothing that includes long pants, long-sleeved shirts, socks and shoes," Stein said.
  • Checking to see that all screens on doors and windows are tight fitting and free of holes and tears: "People sometimes forget about screen doors and mosquitoes really love to get in through little holes and tears so make sure they are secure," Stein said.
  • Encouraging neighbors to take precautions.

To further your protection and lessen mosquito breeding opportunities, CDPH officials also recommend:

  • Draining and replacing water in birdbaths and children's back-yard wading pools every four to five days. "I would say don't even leave it overnight," Stein said.
  • Disposing of old tires, jars, cans, pans, bottles, buckets and other unwanted containers that can hold standing water.
  • Making sure that rain gutters, downspouts, swimming pools and pool covers are free of standing water.
  • Keeping grass and weeds cut short to reduce hiding places for adult mosquitoes.

Last week, Cook County saw its first human cases of WNV for the year in two women from different northwest suburbs. Both were over the age of 60 with people over 50 being more susceptible to the flulike symptoms that accompany the virus.

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