Recent floods worsen mold, mosquito problems

August 6, 2010 (WESTCHESTER, Ill.) The mold count is close to dangerous levels, and there is a huge mosquito population.

Marcy Trujillo of River Grove, like many others, has allergies, and this time of year, she's suffering. In fact, it's so bad right now, she has had to drop by and see Dr. Joseph Leija every few weeks.

"I think this has been the worst season, by far. I have been with the post-nasal drip and suffering with the congestion. It's hard, especially when you have to deal with work every day," Trujillo said.

Trujillo is just one of Dr. Leija's patients at Loyola's Gottlieb Memorial Hospital in Melrose Park. Dr. Leija not only understands the patients' viewpoint, but he's also responsible for the daily allergy count for the Midwest. Each day, he climbs to the hospital's rooftop, collects a sample of mold and pollen and examines it.

Friday's count of mold spores is the highest he's seen in five years.

Another seasonal problem kicking into high gear right now is mosquitoes. Mosquito experts from Clarke Abatement were busy spraying Friday. As is the case with mold, they say the flooding two weeks ago throughout the Chicago area impacted the Culex mosquito, a type that often carries the West Nile Virus.

"The Culex mosquito really likes stagnant water. So, when these heavy rains came down, it really did flush out a lot of that through some of the ditches areas and things of that sort. But now, with all of the articificial containers filled up and tires and things of that sort, now the the Culex populations are starting to increase," Clarke Abatement's George Balis.

Balis says, as if things weren't bad enough, that means the Chicago area residents hit hardest by recent flooding will likely also face the greatest uptick in mosquito and mold problems.

To take a snapshot of the problem, ABC7 went back to Westchester Friday night, one of the communities flooded a few weeks ago, and found that flooding has exacerbated the mosquito and mold problems.

Westchester's streets were empty for a reason Friday night.

"The mosquitoes are really bad. I have to say we can't sit outside in the evening, and the kids don't enjoying playing outside because they just get covered in bites," said Diane Kegley, a Westchester resident.

Annoying, scratchy bites because rainstorms flooded Westchester and other areas two weeks ago. Water is the mosquitoes' breeding ground.

"The mosquitoes are the worst. I tried to hang out with my friends outside. We all got eaten alive, all over our legs, our faces, our chests. It's horrible," said Carly Michelotti, also a Westchester resident.

Flooding also left behind mold problems. Walls are covered with it in Westchester. And outside, residents are still hauling out ruined belongings, filling dumpsters along the streets.

"We got flooded twice this summer. So, half our stuff got ruined the first flood. The second half, everything is gone now. My entire bedroom was downstairs," resident Kayla Michelotti said.

Dr. Leija warns flood victims to take note outside and inside of their homes.

"It's very very essential to have a dehumidifier to air the area and completely reduce, as much as possible, the humidity when there's a problem with the mold growth," Leija said.

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