The DeKalb County Health Department is reporting that a batch of mosquitoes collected in a trap in DeKalb has tested positive for West Nile Virus. This is the first positive test for WNV in DeKalb County since last year.
Several counties have reported WNV positive mosquito samples this year, which is associated with an increased risk of WNV in people. Also as part of its West Nile program, the Health Department is collecting dead birds to be sent to the state lab for testing. Please call (815) 758-6673 to report the presence of freshly-dead birds (such as crows or blue jays) to determine if WNV testing is recommended. The birds must not show any signs of decay or trauma.
“The most effective way to prevent you or your family from being infected is to reduce the chances of being bitten by mosquitoes” says Greg Maurice, Director of the Environmental Health Division. “This includes eliminating standing water from around your house and property where mosquitoes breed and hatch, and using mosquito repellent when outside.”
Maurice offers these tips
Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, especially between dusk and dawn. Use prevention methods whenever mosquitoes are present.
When outdoors, wear shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, and apply insect repellent that includes DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus 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.
Change water in birdbaths weekly. Properly maintain wading pools and stock ornamental ponds with fish.
Turn over any buckets, garbage cans, or other containers that collect water.
West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected after feeding on an infected bird. It is important to remember that not all mosquitoes, or birds, carry West Nile virus — most do not.
Most people with the virus have no clinical symptoms of illness, but some may become ill three to 14 days after the bite of an infected mosquito. Only about two persons out of 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 have been known to develop. Persons older than 50 years of age have the highest risk of severe disease.
For additional information, check the Illinois Department of Public Health website at www.idph.state.il.us, or the CDC’s (Center for Disease Control) “Fight the Bite” website at http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/prevention_info.htm.