Mosquitoes testing positive for West Nile virus reported in Illinois
Springfield, Ill. (KMOV.com) -
The first reports of mosquitoes testing positive for West Nile virus have surfaced in Illinois for 2017.
The Madison County Health Department collected mosquitoes testing positive for the virus on May 22 and 23 in Godfrey, and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) released the findings on Tuesday.
"The weather is warming up and we're starting to see West Nile virus," said IDPH Director Nirav D. Shah. "Although we see West Nile virus in Illinois every year, it's still important to take precautions to protect yourself by wearing insect repellent and getting rid of standing water around you home."
According to IDPH, West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of a Culex pipiens mosquito, also known as a house mosquito, that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird.
People who come across a dying bird, such as a crow, blue jay or robin, are urged to contact their local health department which will determine if the bird should be picked up for testing.
Common symptoms of West Nile virus include fever, nausea, headache and muscle aches. These symptoms can last for a few days to a few weeks. Four out of five people infected with the virus will not show any symptoms at all. In rare cases, severe illness, or even death, can occur according to the IDPH.
Although human cases of the virus often go unreported, last year 152 people contracted the virus resulting in five deaths.
So far in 2017, there have been no reported human cases of West Nile.
The IDPH said there are ways to protect yourself from the virus by practicing the three "R's" -- reduce, repel, and report.
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.
Eliminate, or refresh each week, all sources of standing water where mosquitoes can breed, including water in bird baths, ponds, flowerpots, wading pools, old tires, and any other containers.
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 locations where you see water sitting stagnant for more than a week such as roadside ditches, flooded yards, and similar locations that may produce mosquitoes. The local health department or city government may be able to add larvicide to the water, which will kill any mosquito eggs.
Additional information about West Nile virus can be found here.
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