|June 14, 2005|
GOV. BLAGOJEVICH AWARDS $2 MILLION IN GRANTS FOR
SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today awarded grants totaling $2 million to local health departments as part of this year’s efforts to detect and control mosquitoes that carry the West Nile virus or other mosquito-borne disease.
“This money will go a long way in keeping Illinoisans, especially the elderly, protected from West Nile virus,” Gov. Blagojevich said. “It’s important that we remain vigilant in our surveillance and prevention methods so that we never again experience the toll West Nile disease took on the state in 2002.”
The money comes from a special 50-cent fee on the purchase of new tires that was imposed in 2003 to create a public health emergency fund to finance human, mosquito, bird and horse surveillance for mosquito-borne diseases. Local health departments that had positive West Nile virus activity in their area last year received funding. The Cook County Department of Public Health is one of more than 60 grant recipients statewide.
“We welcome this funding as it ensures our ability to continue mosquito and bird surveillance and mosquito prevention and control, as well as an enhanced capacity to protect the public from disease,” said Stephen A. Martin Jr., Ph.D., M.P.H., chief operating officer of the Cook County Department of Public Health.
Illinois’ 2005 surveillance for West Nile virus, which began May 1, 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 find sick or dying crows or blue jays should contact their local health department, which will determine if the bird is acceptable for testing.
So far this year, West Nile activity has been reported in DuPage (mosquitoes), Johnson (mosquitoes), McLean (crow) and Woodford (crow) counties.
“We cannot predict what the West Nile virus activity will be this year in Illinois, but we can prepare,” said Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director. Surveillance alerts us to where infected birds or mosquitoes are located so that public health officials can notify citizens about the increased risk of mosquito-borne diseases in their area.”
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.
Only about two persons out of 10 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, are possible. Persons older than 50 years of age have the highest risk of severe disease.
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. Last year, there were 60 human cases and four deaths, and West Nile activity was reported in 62 counties. However, unusually cool weather last summer suppressed mosquito activity and consequently, hot summer weather this year could result in a higher number of cases.
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:
Grants were awarded to the following local health departments:
Additional information about West Nile virus can be found on IDPH’s Web site at www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/wnv.htm.
of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
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