West Nile Virus returns to area

As rain and humidity continue to sweep the region, hordes of virus-bearing mosquitos have plagued Little Egypt.

A recent mosquito onslaught in southern Illinois has led to a wave of West Nile Disease. This has caused some people in the region to make temporary changes to their lifestyle.

Eric Freidenfelds, a senior from Elk Grove Village studying recreation, said the virus is something he has to constantly be aware of during outdoor activities, and he will be relieved when the swarms of mosquitos pass.

“I normally like going outside and enjoying the weather,” he said. “Now, I have to be think about the virus. My girlfriend doesn’t even want to go camping with me right now.”

The mosquitos’ migration to the region has prompted many to take preventative measures.

DeProw Services, an extermination company in Carbondale, has had more than 50 calls to exterminate mosquitos during the past two weeks, said Kelly Nelson, manager of the branch. He said this was well above average for a two-week span.

Nelson said the summer’s dryness combined with Hurricane Isaac’s moisture was a major reason the mosquitos flocked to the region.

“There was a lot of rain, which is conducive to bringing in the mosquito population,” he said. “Where we weren’t before, now we’re having mosquito problems.”

Nelson advised to cut weeds and grass and limit any standing water in yards. He said mosquitos are particularly drawn to moisture.

“(Mosquitos frequent) bird baths or anything like that that holds water,” he said. “They like that. It’s a feeding frenzy.”

The first reported case of the West Nile Virus in southern Illinois was found in mosquitos and birds May 30 and continued to progress throughout the summer, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

LaMar Hasbrouck, IDPH director, said it’s important for people to keep themselves protected. He said they should follow the three R’s: Reduce exposure to mosquitos, repel them with insect repellent and report areas where mosquitos typically breed.

There have been more than 2,600 reported cases of the West Nile Virus in 2012 as of Sept. 16, including 118 confirmed deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Illinois alone has had 81 reported cases and three deaths.

The IDPH lists fever, nausea, headaches and muscle aches as common symptoms of West Nile that last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, but four out of five people infected show no signs of infection.

Questions about West Nile disease prevention and treatment can be directed to the Student Health Center or Carbondale Memorial Hospital.

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