Public health officials warn of mosquito surge after record rain, heat

NORTHFIELD, Ill. (WLS) -- The record-breaking rain in May and the heat headed to Chicago this weekend is creating the perfect storm for pesky mosquitoes.

Experts said they have already seen mosquito populations surge.

The North Shore Mosquito Abatement District is busy Thursday. Executive director Mark Clifton took ABC7 Eyewitness News into his lab as technicians were holding vials filled with mosquitoes.

"(You) kind of grind them up into a mosquito slurry," he said.

That slurry is then tested for West Nile virus to get a sense of the potential risk to humans. The more mosquitoes with West Nile, the higher the risk for humans.

the record rainfall in May isn't helping.

"The rain that we saw in may did cause a big surge in mosquito population," Clifton said.

He SAID there's an increase in both West Nile-carrying mosquitoes and the normal nuisance ones that can ruin a barbecue.

"We are far above normal for this time of year, and probably this rain and heat this weekend that's forecast will bring more mosquitoes in the coming weeks," Clifton said.

The scientists at the abatement district said just one mosquito egg sac can produce 100 larva.

North Shore Mosquito Abatement has been using larvicide and fogging for the past few weeks.

Chicago health officials SAID they've already started using larvicide on the northwest and southwest sides, but they need your help. If you see standing water, call 311.

"We'll send an inspector out and do an inspection and work with the property owner to fix the issue," said Dr. Cort Lohff, Medical Director of Environmental Health for the Chicago Department of Public Health.

The Illinois Department of Public Health said there hasn't been a single human case of West Nile in the state yet this year. But when the mosquitoes that carry West Nile, "become more common, the virus becomes more common and that's later in the year, July and august, even into September sometimes," Clifton said.

And that's why it's so important to start thinking of this now. Rid your home of standing water and avoid tall grasses where mosquitoes are going to hang out, especially at dawn and dusk. The experts ABC7 spoke with also recommend using a bug repellent with DEET.
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