Towns spray for mosquitoes, test for West Nile

July 27, 2011 4:38:59 PM PDT
Near record rainfall in the Chicago area has spawned a mosquito invasion, prompting many suburban towns to begin spraying to rid their communities of the pest.

For Christopher Xamplas of the North Shore Mosquito Abatement District, a new day brought a new pile of mosquitoes to surf through and test for West Nile virus. He says it's not your usual office job.

"On occasion, after going through a few thousand mosquitoes in a day, it's a little eye-straining," he told ABC7.

Xamplas is committed to the tireless work of monitoring the mosquito population in northern Cook County for West Nile virus. In recent weeks, mosquitoes collected from traps in Evanston, Skokie, Kenilworth and Niles have tested positive for the disease. On Monday and Tuesday nights, the district fogged those area to kill the Culex mosquito, the type that carries West Niles. It thrives in dry, hot weather and breeds in stagnant water.

"People need to be aware if their gutters are clogged, if their children's toys have been sitting around, anything that can hold water is eventually going to be a potential breeding site," said Dave Zazra, North Shore Mosquito Abatement District.

Unlike the nuisance mosquito, which is not a carrier of West Nile, the bite of a Culex mosquito can go undetected at first. The district's main focus is to kill them in the larva stage with various E.P.A.-approved chemicals. But they use fogs when they find a spike in the disease.

The district says even though a small percentage of people with West Nile develop life-threatening symptoms, it is important to take preventive measures.

"There have been young, old, babies, infants, that have contracted West Nile disease and they died or they suffer long-term effects," said Xamplas.

Symptoms of West Nile virus include a mild headache, aches and pains and a mild fever. Experts warn residents to consult their doctor if they start to feel symptoms after being been bitten by a mosquito

At this point, no human cases of the West Nile virus have been reported in the Chicago area.


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