April 13, 2012
West Nile Virus Testing Begins Earlier
Mild winter and warm spring pushes up West Nile virus surveillance
SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) will be accepting birds submitted for West Nile virus testing two weeks earlier than normal. The Department will start accepting dead birds on Monday, April 16, 2012, as opposed to May 1, the date when West Nile virus surveillance began in years past.
“The earlier submission of birds is an effort to help detect any early West Nile virus activity prompted by the unusually warm weather this winter and spring,” said Dr. Arthur F. Kohrman, state health department acting director.
Surveillance for West Nile virus in Illinois includes laboratory tests on mosquito batches, dead crows, blue jays, robins and other perching birds, as well as testing sick horses and humans with West Nile-like disease symptoms. People who observe a sick or dying crow, blue jay, robin or other perching bird should contact their local health department, which will determine if the bird will be picked up for testing.
The first West Nile virus positive results in 2011 were collected on June 8 and included two birds from LaSalle County. Last year 19 counties in Illinois reported a West Nile virus positive mosquito batch, bird and/or human case. A total of 34 Illinois residents contracted West Nile virus disease, and three died.
West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird. Common West Nile virus symptoms include fever, nausea, headache and muscle aches. Symptoms may last from a few days to a few weeks. However, four out of five people infected with West Nile virus will not show any symptoms. In rare cases, severe illness including meningitis or encephalitis, or even death, can occur. People older than 50 are at higher risk for severe illness from West Nile Virus.
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:
Public health officials believe that a hot summer increases mosquito activity and the risk of disease from West Nile virus.
Additional information about West Nile virus can be found on the Illinois Department of Public Health’s Web site at www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/wnv.htm.
of Public Health
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