First West Nile Virus Positive Bird and Mosquitoes in
Illinois for 2012 Reported
SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has confirmed the first West Nile virus positive bird and mosquito batches reported in Illinois for 2012. The Chicago Department of Public Health employees collected a crow on May 16, which tested positive for West Nile virus. IDPH and DuPage County Health Department environmental health staff collected positive mosquito samples on May 17, 2012 from Lemont and Norridge in Cook County, and Clarendon Hills, Hinsdale, Lisle, Westmont and Woodridge in DuPage County.
“Although it is a little earlier in the season than we normally find West Nile virus positive mosquito pools and birds, it is not unheard of,” said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck. “This is a good reminder as we head into the Memorial Day weekend and more people spend time outdoors, that it is important to protect yourself and wear insect repellent.”
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. No human cases of West Nile virus have been reported so far this year.
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.
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 practicing the three “R’s” – reduce, repel and report.
- REDUCE exposure - avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, especially between dusk and dawn.
- 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 where mosquitoes can breed, including water in bird baths, ponds, flowerpots, wading pools, old tires and any other receptacles.
- REPEL - when outdoors, wear shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, and apply insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR 3535, according to label instructions. Consult a physician before using repellents on infants.
- REPORT - 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.
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.