PREVENTION IS BEST PROTECTION AGAINST MOSQUITOES
SPRINGFIELD, IL The Illinois Department of Public Health again wants to remind citizens, as they engage in outdoor activities during the final weeks of summer, to protect themselves from mosquito bites. "Mosquitoes can transmit a number of diseases," said Dr. John R. Lumpkin, state public health director. "If you are going to be outdoors especially when mosquitoes are most active you need to take appropriate precautions to avoid being bitten."
Precautions are particularly important in the northeastern part of the state where the Department's early warning system for possible mosquito-borne disease activity has detected recent evidence of encephalitis viruses.
Four birds collected in June and July in Cook and DuPage counties have been found to have antibodies to eastern equine encephalitis (EEE). Three of the birds were collected in central and southern Cook County and the other was collected in southern DuPage County. Also, two birds positive for St. Louis encephalitis (SLE) were collected in central and southern Cook County. Samples from additional birds collected in these areas are undergoing laboratory testing by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to further assess the risk of human illness. The Department is continuing to collect and test birds. No human cases of illness from either virus have yet been reported.
"These positive samples indicate that virus is circulating in wild birds and that encephalitis may become a problem in the area," said Dr. Lumpkin. "We do not believe this information indicates a need for alarm, but persons particularly those living in central and southern Cook, southern DuPage and northern Will counties should increase their awareness, surveillance and prevention activities."
Two types of encephalitis are most common in Illinois: St. Louis encephalitis, which commonly strikes older adults, and LaCrosse encephalitis, which generally affects children. Both illnesses are characterized by similar symptoms, which range from a slight fever or headache to rapid onset of severe headache, high fever, muscle aches, stiffness in the back of the neck and disorientation. Symptoms usually appear five to 15 days following the bite of an infected mosquito.
EEE, which is carried by marshland and wetland mosquitoes, is primarily a disease of horses. Although the virus can infect humans, cases are extremely rare only about five are reported annually in the United States.
Dr. Lumpkin emphasized that personal protection is essential. Such measures are most important when people participate in outdoor activities during times when mosquitoes are active.
Another important preventive measure is to eliminate the places where mosquitoes breed. Here are some suggestions:
of Public Health
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Springfield, Illinois 62761
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