Mosquito samples collected in two northern Illinois counties have tested positive for West Nile virus. The Tazewell and DuPage county health departments have reported the find as part of their routine surveillance for presence of the potentially-lethal disease which began May 1st.
One positive sample was collected in Creve Couer on May 16th, the other in Bartlett on May 19th.
Birds Spread West Nile
West Nile virus originates in birds. Mosquitoes that bite the birds pick it up and spread it to humans.
Finding the virus in May is not unusual, according to Dr. Damon T. Arnold, state public health director. "West Nile virus activity has been present in the state since August 2001 and we expected to see activity again this year."
West Nile in Illinois in 2007
Last year, the first find of a mosquito sample determined positive for West Nile was reported in DuPage County on May 7th. The first human case in the state is not expected until July or later.
In all, Illinois saw 101 human cases of West Nile disease, to include four fatalities. Forty-six of the 106 Illinois counties reported West Nile either in a bird, mosquito, horse, or human.
Most people who are infected show no symptoms of illness. Only about two out of 10 bitten become ill three to 15 days following infection by the mosquito carrier. When it does occur, the symptoms are generally mild with fever, headache, and body aches. However, in rare cases, serious illness to include encephalitis and meningitis or even death, may occur.
Steps to Prevent West Nile
There are several rules to prevent exposure to West Nile virus.
Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active. Dawn and dusk are the times of greatest prevalence.
Wear shoes and socks outdoors, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt.
Use insect repellent that includes DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR 3535. Follow label instructions. With an infant, consult a doctor first.
Make sure there are tight-fitting screens without tears or holes on doors and windows.
Keep windows and doors shut, especially at night.
Get rid of all standing water where mosquitoes can breed. Even a rusty tincan filled with stagnant water can allow a swarm of mosquitoes to breed in only a matter of days. Dry out old flowerpots, wading pools, ponds, old tires, bird baths, gutters, anything else that can allow standing water to accumulate.
First Mosquitoes Test Positive for West Nile Virus in Illinois, Illinois Department of Public Health www.idph.state.il.us/public/press08/5.23.08First_WNV_08.htm