JOLIET – The Will County Health Department is urging area residents to take personal precautions against mosquito bites in the wake of increased local West Nile virus activity reported since Aug. 19.
A horse stabled in northern Will County tested positive for the virus Aug. 23. It was the first Illinois horse to test positive this summer, and Will County Environmental Health Director Elizabeth Bilotta believes it could be a harbinger of things to come.
“Because the mortality rate for horses with [West Nile virus] is high, most Illinois horses are vaccinated against the virus and we don’t see that many cases,” Bilotta said. “When we do see a [West Nile]-positive horse, it is generally just before human cases appear. In short, equine West Nile cases are an indicator of increased risk of West Nile to humans.”
No cases of human the West Nile infection have been reported in Will County to date, but virus activity in the mosquito population is increasing.
Five mosquito monitoring sites operated by the Health Department’s Division of Environmental Health reported positives from Aug. 19-22.
Positives were harvested from two sites in Bolingbrook (on Aug. 19 and Aug. 22), and a trap in Lockport generated positive results Aug. 19-21. Sites in Joliet and Crete also yielded positives.
The Will County WNV Information Line is available 24 hours daily at 815-740-7631.