Chicago’s West Nile Virus Outbreak

Photo: Flickr

2018 has been filled with reports of West Nile Virus. The West Nile Virus is a national concern, affecting all 48 continental states. Experts say with the current changes in the climate infected mosquito population is due to increase in the coming years.  

With mosquito season over and having all of the statistics collected. The amount of cases being reported in Illinois has increased from 90 reports in 2017 to 140 reports this year. This is a 64 percent increase in human cases in Illinois, according to the Illinois Department of Health.

The Chicago Health Department monitors mosquitoes around the city every year. During the summer season, traps are placed throughout the Chicago area and mosquitoes are then tested for West Niles Virus.

The Health Department does this to see where infected mosquitos carrying West Nile Virus are existent and breeding. They do this to try to inform and prevent humans from getting infected by the West Nile Virus, as well as try to stop the disease from spreading. If the tests show a high level of West Nile activity then the health department will take further steps to protect and avoid humans getting infected. In 2017, 27,968 mosquitoes were trapped versus in 2018 with a high of 35,347 mosquitoes, an increase of 7,379.

West Nile Virus Throughout the Years

The Illinois Department of Public Health’s 2018 West Niles Virus report showed 17,367 mosquitoes with this disease were found, 3,617 more than in 2017.

Jim Dunbar, owner of Mosquito Joe of Chicago North, has been about 3 ½ years in the business. Mosquito Joe provides services to help with mosquito control. He has a theory on the cause of the outbreak.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

“If you recall in April we had snow late, then plenty of rain,” he said. “Once it did warm, the heat came quickly and hot. This jump started the process and amount of mosquitoes that were out there.”

There were multiple areas around Chicago that received positive results on West Niles but it was the 5,263 mosquitoes around O’Hare airport that really stood out from all. It makes up 30 percent of the entire pool of mosquitoes that were tested positive. The airport received a high of 8.2 inches of rainfall for May, followed by hot temperatures .This is the perfect combination to speed up the mosquito population, experts say, which could have been a reason behind the high results.

West Nile can be found in areas where we least expect it, therefore it’s important to be aware of this virus. According to the Cook County health department, four out of five people with the virus do not realize that they have it because they show no symptoms.

While others will start to show signs of being ill after 3 to 15 days of being bitten by a mosquito. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, headache with high fever and a stick neck being more severe. These warnings are leaving many parents concerned. When mosquito spray is not protecting their children they turn to services such as Dunbar’s.

John O’Neill, a parent of five children in Oak Forest, Illinois, expressed concerns over the summer and the West Nile threat..

“With all the warnings on the television I decided to get the treatment done to my lawn,” he said. “I live in a forested area with five young children, if I can lower the risk of them catching West Nile virus, I’m going to do all I can. It is a little peace of mind knowing I have two lines of defense, mosquito spray and the mosquito treatment.”

While O’Hare overall received a higher amount of mosquitoes with the West Niles virus, Cook County Department of Health received fewer calls regarding nuisance mosquitoes.

Kimberley Conrad Junius, health communication specialist with the Cook County Department of Public Health, said that “West Nile virus is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Culex mosquito. Mosquitoes that spread WNV most often bite between dawn and dusk, but they can bite any time of day.”

She listed three ways to prevent mosquito bites and the diseases they carry: the 3 R’s.

“We treat for mosquitoes, April through October,” Dunbar said. “ The season for treating them ends when we reach an average temperature below 50 degrees for a week,” said Dunbar.

Mosquito season may be over now but it’s always good to be prepared and have knowledge of the things that can be done to lower the chances of coming into contact with the virus.

“Many people have mosquito eggs that have been or will be there for 10-15 years,” added Dunbar. “We may think we are in the clear but these eggs are just waiting for the right environment to hatch.”

Shanghai Growth,121.4737,10,latLng&t=3.28


This is a time lapse of Shanghai, China from 1984 to 2016. Shanghai is located on the east coast in China, just south of the Yangtze River and the Huangpu River runs through it. According to Statista 2018, Shanghai’s population was around 7.1 million in 1985. In 2016, it grew to be about 24.61 million. Shanghai was the fastest growing large city and the largest city by population in the world. It’s growth rate was 10 percent a year for the last 20 years. This population is expected to keep growing.  Reaching around an estimated 34.34 million by 2035.

With the rising population and increased threats of global warming, Shanghai is left vulnerable to extreme flooding. It has two coastlines, miles of canals, rivers, waterways, and shipping ports. This makes it one of the most vulnerable cities in the world for catastrophic flooding, according to a report done by a team of UK and Dutch scientists. Many factors play into why it is considered the most vulnerable city, such as population living close to the coastline, prevention, and recover time from floods. An estimated 17.5 million people could be impacted.

Measures have been taken by the government to try to prevent these catastrophic floods and divert the water somewhere else. It will be interesting to see how the city changes in the next 30 years.

Pride Parade Attendance over 30 years.



The Chicago Pride Parade takes place on the last weekend of June, which is gay and lesbian Pride month, every year. The first parade in Chicago was in 1970 and has been held every year since. This data shows the increase in attendance at the Pride Parade in Chicago, Illinois. The attendance increased by 2757% from the year 1985 to 2014. Chicago Pride Parade draws a crowd of over a million people with hundreds of thousands coming in from other cities and countries. It is one of the biggest Pride Parades in the world.

Practice Post

Pat Quinn Photo

Gov. Pat Quinn talks about MAP grants at DePaul University. (Photo by Josclynn Brandon)

Editor’s note: This story was originally posted on Dec. 12, 2012 and is housed at


By Bob Smith


Gov. Pat Quinn visited DePaul University’s Loop campus on Wednesday to discuss how pension reform is harming the Monetary Award Program (MAP) college scholarships and access to higher education in Illinois.


“This is so important to our state, not only in the past, but certainly now and in the future,” Quinn said.
“We want everyone to have the opportunity to go to college that has the ability to go to college.”


MAP grants are need-based college scholarships that allow merit students who are in need across the state and do not need to be repaid by the student. Quinn said that due to cutbacks and having to pay more money in the pension amount, almost 18,000 students lost their MAP grant scholarships this year.

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