First birds in Northern Illinois test positive for West Nile virus

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

                      Dr. Damon T. Arnold, state public

                      health director, today announced the first birds this

                      year in Northern Illinois testing positive for West

                      Nile virus were found in LaSalle County.

                      “With the temperature heating up, we could see more

                      West Nile virus circulating.  In hotter weather we

                      typically see more West Nile virus activity,” said

                      Dr. Arnold.  “Although most cases of West Nile virus

                      are mild, the virus can cause serious, life-altering

                      and even fatal disease.  That is why it is so

                      important to protect yourself against mosquito bites

                      by wearing insect repellent and getting rid of any

                      standing water around your home.”

                      Test results for two birds, collected June 8 in

                      LaSalle and Sandwich, came back today positive for

                      West Nile virus.

                      The first birds testing positive for West Nile virus

                      in 2010 were from Carroll and St. Clair Counties, and

                      were reported on May 13.  The first positive mosquito

                      samples were reported last year on June 5 in Gallatin

                      County. On Tuesday the Illinois Department of Public

                      Health reported that a mosquito sample collected in

                      Tazewell County was the first to test positive for

                      West Nile virus this year.

                      Last year, 30 of the state’s 102 counties were found

                      to have a West Nile positive bird, mosquito, horse or

                      human case.  A total of 61 human cases of West Nile

                      disease were reported in Illinois last year, the

                      first reported on August 31.  In hotter summers, such

                      as 2005 and 2006, more human cases have been

                      reported:

                      • 2009- 5

                      • 2008 – 20

                      • 2007 – 101

                      • 2006 – 215

                      • 2005 – 252

                      • 2004 – 60

                      • 2003 - 54

                      Surveillance for West Nile virus in Illinois began on

                      May 1 and includes laboratory tests on mosquitoes,

                      dead crows, blue jays, robins and other perching

                      birds as well as the testing of sick horses and

                      humans with West Nile-like disease symptoms.

                      Citizens 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.  Most people with the virus have no

                      clinical symptoms of illness, but some may become ill

                      three to 15 days after the bite of an infected

                      mosquito.  The first human case in Illinois is not

                      usually reported until July or later.

                      Only about two people in 10 who are bitten by an

                      infected mosquito will experience any illness.

                      Illness from West Nile is usually mild and includes

                      fever, headache and body aches, but serious illness,

                      such as encephalitis and meningitis, and death are

                      possible.

                      Persons older than 50 years of age have the highest

                      risk of severe disease.

                      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:

                      • Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most

                      active, especially between dusk and dawn.

                      • When outdoors, wear shoes and socks, long pants and

                      a long-sleeved shirt, and apply insect repellent that

                      includes DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or

                      IR 3535 according to label instructions.  Consult a

                      physician before using repellents on infants.

                      • 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 that can

                      support mosquito breeding, including water in bird

                      baths, ponds, flowerpots, wading pools, old tires and

                      any other receptacles.  In communities where there

                      are organized mosquito control programs, contact your

                      municipal government to report areas of stagnant

                      water in roadside ditches, flooded yards and similar

                      locations that may produce mosquitoes.

                      Public health officials believe that a hot summer

                      could increase 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.