July 7, 2006
Keep Cool Illinois Campaign Urges Residents To Take Precaution Against West Nile Virus This Summer
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director, today reminded Illinoisans to take precautions to protect themselves from mosquito bites, which can result in disease. “As temperatures increase, so does the activity of mosquitoes. Mosquito bites are not only irritating, they can lead to serious illness or even death if the mosquito transmits West Nile virus to a person,” Dr. Whitaker said. “People should protect themselves whenever they are outdoors.”
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:
So far this year, 21 counties out of 102 have reported positive test results for West Nile Virus. Those cases have been from mosquito and bird samples. The West Nile Virus virus in mosquitoes have been found in Adams, Cook, DuPage, Jackson, Kane, Kankakee, Knox, Lake, Will and Winnebago counties. Positive samples in birds have been found in Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, DeWitt, Effingham, Ford, Lake, LaSalle, Livingston, Macoupin, McHenry, McLean, Stephenson and Sangamon counties.
“There has not been a human case yet, this year, but the positive test results should remind people to take precaution to avoid contact with mosquitoes,” says Dr. Whitaker.
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 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.
Viruses are most likely to be spread during the warm weather months when mosquitoes are most active, usually beginning in May and lasting until the first hard freeze. Most human cases occur in late summer and fall.
Illinois’ surveillance for West Nile Virus began May 1 and includes laboratory tests on mosquitoes, dead crows, blue jays, robins and other perching birds, as well as the testing of sick horses and humans with West Nile-like disease symptoms. Citizens who observe a sick or dying perching bird should contact their local health department, which will determine if the bird is to be picked up for testing.
Additional information about West Nile virus can be found on the Department’s Web site at www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/wnv.htm or people can call the West Nile Virus Hotline at 866-369-9710 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Last month, the Governor launched the multi-agency Keep Cool Illinois campaign and website to help all Illinoisans stay cool, healthy and safe this summer. The Keep Cool Illinois campaign is a comprehensive, statewide effort to inform Illinois residents, especially the elderly, families with small children and persons with disabilities, how to prevent heat-related health problems, reduce their utility bills and participate in summer activities safely. For more information, Illinoisans can call 1-877-411-9276 or visit www.keepcool.illinois.gov.
of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
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