West Nile Virus Cases Causing Concern in Illinois
August 27, 2012
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL) continually monitors events that could impact the health and wellness of your patients.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports the highest number of cases documented through the end of July since 2004. The high count is attributed in large part to the much greater than average number of infested mosquitoes, brought on by the mild winter, early spring and very hot summer we have experienced this year.
Illinois is reporting higher rates of infected mosquitoes compared with past years. The Illinois Department of Public Health has noted that in Illinois the rate of infested mosquitoes is the highest in a decade and higher than in 2002, when 67 people died. More infected mosquitoes mean a higher risk for humans.
We encourage you to communicate with your patients the preventive measures they can take to reduce their risk for contracting West Nile, including:
- Wear an insect repellent, preferably one with DEET, when outdoors
- Avoid being outdoors between dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are biting.
- Install or repair screens to keep mosquitoes outside
- Drain standing water to eliminate breeding habitats
- Keep pools, saunas and hot tubs chlorinated
- Wear light-colored clothes when outdoors, and dress in long sleeves and long pants if possible.
The CDC also provides a fact sheet with more information about West Nile on its website: cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/wnv_factsheet.htm.