State Health Department Awards West Nile Virus Prevention Grants
2012 saw the second highest number of West Nile virus cases in Illinois
The Illinois Department of Public Health awarded West Nile virus grants totaling $3.4 million to 90 certified local health departments throughout Illinois. The grants are based on West Nile virus activity surveillance for the previous three years, along with population. Local health departments will use the funding to enhance prevention programs that include testing of birds and mosquitoes for West Nile virus, and to control larval mosquitoes. The grants may also be used to provide information to the public and investigate human West Nile virus cases.
“Last year, Illinois experienced the second highest number of human West Nile virus cases, second only to the 2002 outbreak,” said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck. “Our local health departments around the state are on the front lines in the fight against West Nile virus and it is important they have the resources necessary to monitor mosquito activity, take steps to reduce the mosquito population and investigate human infections.”
For the 2012 season, Illinois reported 290 human cases of West Nile disease and 12 deaths. The state followed a nationwide trend and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ranked fourth in the country for the total number of human cases. The age range for Illinois cases was nine to 89 years with roughly 78 percent of the cases in people 45 years and older.
Last summer we saw hot, dry conditions, which often results in more West Nile virus cases. Although people usually notice mosquitoes during rainy conditions, those mosquitoes are what are commonly called floodwater mosquitoes and typically do not carry West Nile disease. In hot, dry weather, mosquitoes that carry West Nile disease breed in stagnant water, like street catch basins and ditches, and multiply rapidly.
As temperatures warm up, remember to take some simple precautions to reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home and protect yourself from being bitten. 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 – beginning May 1, report dead birds to your local health department. In communities where there are organized mosquito control programs, contact your municipal government about areas of stagnant water in roadside ditches, flooded yards and similar locations that may produce mosquitoes.