May 30, 2012
First West Nile Virus Positive Mosquitoes in Southern Illinois for 2012 Reported
SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is reporting the first West Nile virus positive mosquito batch detected in southern Illinois for 2012. Egyptian Health Department staff collected a mosquito batch in Shawneetown in Gallatin County on May 24, which tested positive for West Nile virus. Mosquito batches collected on May 17 and May 18 in DuPage and Cook counties have tested positive for West Nile virus, as well as a bird collected on May 16 in Cook County.
“As temperatures heat up and we head into summer, we will start to see more mosquitoes and birds test positive for West Nile virus,” said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck. “It is important to protect yourself by following the three R’s – reduce your exposure to mosquitoes, repel them by wearing insect repellent, and report areas where mosquitoes typically breed.”
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.
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.
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