Press Release
 May 14, 2014
Melaney Arnold (217) 558-0500

West Nile Virus Season Begins

State’s Health Chief announces vital public health grants

SPRINGFIELD – As the weather warms up, mosquitoes will soon be flying around. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) began accepting birds for West Nile virus testing on May 1, 2014. To help identify areas in Illinois that are seeing West Nile virus, IDPH awarded West Nile virus prevention grants totaling almost $3 million to 92 certified local health departments throughout Illinois. The annual 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 collecting birds and mosquito samples for West Nile virus testing, and to control larval mosquitoes. The grants may also be used to provide information to the public and investigate human West Nile virus cases.

“Over the past five years, 507 human cases, including 30 West Nile virus-related deaths, were reported in Illinois,” said IDPH 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.”

Predicting what West Nile virus activity we will see this summer is like predicting the weather for the summer. The key factors in determining if we see high or low West Nile virus activity are temperatures and rainfall. Although people usually notice mosquitoes during rainy conditions, those mosquitoes are commonly called floodwater mosquitoes and typically do not carry West Nile virus. In hot, dry weather, mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus 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 – 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.

Additional information about West Nile virus can be found by logging onto

IDPH continues to implement its Five Year Strategy 2014-2018 to maximize IDPH’s effectiveness, influence and value for promoting wellness, health equity, safety and improved health outcomes. Strategic plan priorities include developing and expanding partnerships; improving data utilization; reducing health disparities; improving regulatory compliance; and branding, marketing and communicating IDPH’s value.

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Illinois Department of Public Health
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Springfield, Illinois 62761
Phone 217-782-4977
Fax 217-782-3987
TTY 800-547-0466
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