JOLIET - The Will County Board of Health authorized the purchase of 62 cases of larvicide February 17, during its regularly scheduled monthly business meeting.
The Will County Health Department's Division of Environmental Health distributes the larvicide (Natular XRT) in conjunction with other local units of government, to help control container breeding mosquitos. Several Illinois mosquito species are known to transmit potentially serious diseases, including West Nile Virus (WNV), and St. Louis Encephalitis. The mosquito most often implicated in WNV transmission (Culex pipiens), has been an Illinois public health priority since 2002, when WNV was linked to 64 fatalities statewide.
The Natular XRT formulation is considered an effective weapon against Culex pipiens, commonly known as the Northern House Mosquito. It has also been used to control species of Aedes mosquitos. Aedes aegyptai mosquitos most commonly transmit the Zika Virus, which has been linked to more than 1.8 million cases of disease in Central and South America.
Several U.S. states have reported Zika cases since January, including Florida, Texas, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. The U.S. cases have resulted from travel to areas where Zika is currently epidemic, but the Will County Health Department and public health agencies from across the U.S. will now be closely monitoring the potential for cases linked to local mosquito populations.
Some Aedes species are known to survive temperatures below freezing, but aegyptai are currently thought to be incapable of overwintering. For 2016, the risk of Chicagoland Zika virus transmission to humans will continue to be from travel, and mosquito bites from Aedes species imported to the area via used tire shipments and freight shipments from countries where Zika is widespread.
The potential for birth defects linked to Zika virus should be a special concern for women who are pregnant, considering pregnancy, and considering travel to an area where Zika is widespread. Pregnant women (in any trimester), may wish to postpone travel to any area where Zika transmission is ongoing. If you must travel to an area where Zika is ongoing, talk to you doctor first and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites. Women who are trying to become pregnant should also talk to their doctor before travel.
When warm weather finally arrives, area residents should take steps to protest themselves against mosquito bites, and eliminate mosquito breeding sites from their property. Rain barrels without screens, or barrels that are covered by torn screes, make ideal breeding sites for a variety of mosquito species. Screens on rain barrels should be checked periodically to make sure they are sound.
Even small containers can provide a breeding site for mosquitos. Barrels, wading pools, old tires, flower pots, and other ornamental containers should be drained regularly to make sure they are free of standing water.
The Health Department urges everyone to check our website (www.willcountyhealth.org), periodically for ongoing Zika virus developments. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for important information updates.
Zika virus symptoms include: fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes (conjunctivitis). Fatigue and appetite loss may also be present. If you exhibit those symptoms, and have recently traveled to areas where Zika is widespread, consult a medical provider. Be sure to talk to your medical provider about symptoms that surface shortly after returning from travel to Zika hot spots.