Press Release

June 10, 2005


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – A dead crow found in McLean County has tested positive for West Nile virus, Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director, today announced.

The crow was found June 3 in Bloomington and determined to be positive for the virus today by the University of Illinois Veterinary School Laboratory in Urbana-Champaign.

This is the second dead bird in Illinois to test positive for West Nile virus since surveillance for the mosquito-borne virus began May 1. A dead crow collected in Woodford County and mosquito samples collected in DuPage County were the first positive test results in Illinois this year.   The dead crow was found May 19 in El Paso and the mosquito samples were collected May 16 and May 19 in Naperville and May 23 in Wayne.

In 2004, 62 of the state’s 102 counties were found to have a West Nile positive bird, mosquito, horse or human case. A total of 60 human cases of West Nile disease, including four fatalities, were reported last year in Illinois.

Surveillance for West Nile virus includes laboratory tests on mosquitoes, dead crows and blue jays, and the testing of sick horses and humans with West Nile-like disease symptoms. Citizens who observe a sick or dying crow or blue jay should contact their local health department, which will determine if the bird is to be picked up for testing.

In 2002, the state led the nation with 884 human cases, including 66 deaths, and West Nile activity was reported in 100 of 102 counties. In 2003, 75 of the state’s 102 counties reported West Nile activity and there were 54 human cases of the mosquito-borne disease, including one fatality. Public health officials believe that a hot summer, like that of 2002, could increase mosquito activity and the risk of disease from West Nile virus.

West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird. Most people with the virus have no clinical symptoms of illness, but some may become ill three to 14 days after the bite of an infected mosquito. The first human case in Illinois is not usually reported until July or later.

Only about two persons out of 10 who are bitten by an infected mosquito will experience any illness. Illness from West Nile is usually mild and includes fever, headache and body aches, but serious illness, such as encephalitis and meningitis, and death are possible. Persons older than 50 years of age have the highest risk of severe disease.

The best way to prevent West Nile disease or any other mosquito-borne illness is to reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home and to take personal precautions to avoid mosquito bites. Precautions include:

  • Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, especially between dusk and dawn. Use prevention methods whenever mosquitoes are present.
  • When outdoors, wear shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, and apply insect repellent that includes DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus according to label instructions. Consult a physician before using repellents on infants.  
  • Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens. Repair or replace screens that have tears or other openings. Try to keep doors and windows shut, especially at night.
  • Eliminate all sources of standing water that can support mosquito breeding, including water in bird baths, ponds, flowerpots, wading pools, old tires and any other receptacles. In communities where there are organized mosquito control programs, contact your municipal government to report areas of stagnant water in roadside ditches, flooded yards and similar locations that may produce mosquitoes.

Additional information about West Nile virus can be found on the Department’s Web site at or people can call the West Nile Virus Hotline at 866-369-9710 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

idph online home
idph online home

Illinois Department of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
Phone 217-782-4977
Fax 217-782-3987
TTY 800-547-0466
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