The first West Nile-infected mosquito sample of the season has been confirmed in the metro-east in St. Clair County.
The East Side Health District collected the positive sample June 24 in East St. Louis, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Surveillance for West Nile virus in Illinois includes laboratory tests on mosquito batches collected from standing water, dead crows, blue jays, robins and other perching birds, as well as testing sick horses and humans with West Nile-like disease symptoms.
The first West Nile positive sample of the season was collected in Cook County in May, according to Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck. Other counties reporting positive mosquito samples this year are: DuPage, McHenry and Perry counties.
"As temperatures rise, we are starting to see West Nile virus in mosquitoes," Hasbrouck said. "Remember to protect yourself by wearing insect repellent and getting rid of any standing water around your home."
Last year, 55 counties in Illinois reported a West Nile virus positive mosquito batch, bird or human case. The year was also the second highest for West Nile virus human cases in state history with 290 reported cases and 12 deaths. The worst year was in 2002 when 884 Illinois residents were infected with the virus and 67 died.
No human cases of the virus have been reported this year.
West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird.
Common West Nile virus symptoms include: Fever, nausea, headache and muscle aches. Symptoms may last from a few days to a few weeks. Four out of five people infected with the virus will not show any symptoms and in rare cases, severe illness including meningitis or encephalitis can occur.
People older than 50 are at higher risk for severe illness, or death, from the virus.
The best way to prevent West Nile virus infection is to reduce the number of mosquitoes around the home and take precautions against mosquito bites by reducing exposure to mosquitoes, repelling mosquitoes and reporting standing, stagnant water to city officials.
Some tips from the Illinois Department of Public Health to reduce exposure to West Nile virus:
* Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active between dusk and dawn.
* 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 where mosquitoes can breed, including flowerpots, wading pools, old tires and any other receptacles. Change water in bird baths weekly.
* 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.
* 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.
Fore more information about West Nile virus, visit www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/wnv.htm.