West Nile Virus Risk Project Results to be Revealed at Public Meeting

Wed November 5, 2014

A research group from the University of Illinois, Urbana worked with the Wheaton Mosquito Abatement District, the Dupage County Health Department and the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County to develop a model of West Nile virus risk in DuPage County.  We are holding a public meeting in Wheaton, Illinois to provide information about the results of this project. 

For the model, the team used data about West Nile mosquito infection reported in past years from mosquito testing in the County and compared it to weather conditions.  From this, they used statistics to determine the kind of weather that precedes higher mosquito infection rates.  This resulted in a statistical model that helps the County to predict the expected future mosquito infection based on the current weather patterns.  The team found that warmer temperatures and drier conditions generally predicted higher mosquito infection.

The benefit of this approach is give more lead time in knowing the future risk of WNV illness.  The mosquito infection rate tends to increase about two weeks before an increase in the risk of human illness, but there is a lag of 1 to 2 weeks between the time that mosquitos are collected before they are tested and the results can be fully processed and measured.    By knowing the estimated mosquito infection rate based on the weather model, the County can assess the risk of human illness 1 to 2 weeks earlier than it could without the model.  In addition, this project has resulted in several new ways to visualize the risk of illness from WNV in a consistent historical context, making more information available to improve public health decisions.

The U of I team also developed a map of 42 different entities that carry out mosquito control in the County and interviewed personnel in 34 of those organizations about their perceptions and practices related to mosquito control and risk of West Nile virus.  These interviews revealed a range of views related to the factors related to increased risk of West Nile virus and mosquito control.   Understanding this variety of perspectives will help the County to improve its public health messages and provide additional information to better coordinate and collaborate across the County on this important topic.  We will describe the results of these interviews at this meeting.

University of Illinois Team

Marilyn O'Hara Ruiz, PhD - project lead

William M. Brown - programmer

Lyndsay Shand - Statistics student, developed the statistical model

Claire Behnke - Doctor of Veterinary Medicine student, carried out the interviews

After the public meeting we will carry out a hand-on training class to provide information to a smaller group from various County agencies to better implement the model for future decision-making.

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