Watching out for West Nile

Wear sunscreen and stay hydrated - people hear those summer safety tips over and over, but those tips do not cover one of the biggest concerns that come with warmer weather.

Bug spray should be a new summer essential for families.

Nearly every year since the Adams County Health Department has been testing for West Nile, the virus has been found. So far this year, there have not been any positive tests in Adams County.

"It doesn't mean that it wasn't there, it just means that we didn't pick up on any of it with our test mosquitoes," Leo Mueller with the Adams County Health Department said.

Mueller uses gravity traps to collect mosquitoes from all over the area to test for West Nile activity, which the Illinois Department of Public Health says is increasing rapidly across the state.

"Since we are seeing cases we need to pay attention to our environment and try to make sure that this does not spread, recognize it as quickly as possible, and treat it," Dr. Musad Saeed, an infectious disease specialist said.

Just a few symptoms of the virus include head and body aches, nausea, and fever.

"There is no treatment specific for this so the most important things that can be done for physicians is to recognize this quickly and then provide supportive care," Dr. Saeed said.

With treatment most people make a full recovery, but the West Nile is still dangerous, specifically for children and the elderly.

"I just finished testing a bunch of mosquitoes this afternoon and so far there were no positive results. I'm realistic enough to know it's just a matter of time," Mueller explained.

That's why it is important to dump out any standing water, even in gutters, and be sure to protect yourself and your family with a bug spray that includes deet.

"Prevention is better than cure, if you prevent then you don't have to see a doctor and I know everybody, including myself, would like to avoid coming to hospitals and clinics but once you do have symptoms then you don't have a choice. Don't delay it. Pay attention, prevent. It's better than a cure," Saeed said.

Most bug sprays now contain deet, but it is important to check the label to make sure.