MOKENA, IL – Will County Health Department’s Environmental Health division has identified West Nile virus (WNV) in mosquitoes captured in Mokena, Frankfort, and Plainfield.
The trapped mosquitoes mark the first positive cases of WNV in Will County this year.
Fortunately, there have been no reports of human infections thus far. Health officials urge residents to protect themselves against mosquito bites and potential mosquito-borne diseases.
“We urge everyone — especially older individuals and those with weakened immune systems — to wear insect repellent and eliminate standing water around their homes where mosquitoes breed,” emphasized Dr. Sameer Vohra, Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health.
WNV typically causes mild flu-like symptoms, with about 8 out of 10 infected individuals remaining asymptomatic. However, approximately 1 in 5 infected people may experience fever, headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash. Most individuals recover completely, although fatigue and weakness can persist for weeks or months.
Severe cases of WNV, affecting the central nervous system with conditions like encephalitis or meningitis, occur in about 1 out of 150 infected individuals. While severe illness can affect all ages, those over 60 and individuals with certain medical conditions are at higher risk. Since there is no vaccine available for WNV, it is crucial to avoid mosquito bites.
The Illinois Department of Public Health recommends residents to follow the three “R’s” to Fight the Bite. Firstly, reduce the risk by ensuring doors and windows have tight-fitting screens and eliminating stagnant water sources where mosquitoes breed. Secondly, repel mosquitoes by wearing appropriate clothing and applying EPA-registered insect repellents. Finally, report locations with standing water to local health departments or city governments for appropriate action.