A bird has tested positive for West Nile Virus in Monroe County, the first positive bird in the state, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
The virus-positive starling was collected near Waterloo on June 27.
"We are now starting to see West Nile virus in both mosquitoes and birds, which means it's only a matter of time before we start seeing West Nile virus in people," said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck. "Remember to protect yourself by wearing insect repellent and getting rid of any standing water around your home."(*29*)
A mosquito sample collected in Cook County in May was the first West Nile virus positive result this year. So far this season, West Nile virus positive mosquitoes have been reported in 17 counties: Bureau, Clay, Cook, DuPage, Franklin, Gallatin, Hamilton, Macoupin, Madison, Marion, McHenry, Monroe, Peoria, Perry, Putnam, Sangamon and St. Clair.
No human cases of West Nile virus have been reported yet this year.
Last year, 55 counties in Illinois reported a West Nile virus positive mosquito batch, bird and/or human case.
For the 2012 season, the department reported the second highest number of West Nile virus human cases in state history with 290 residents and 12 deaths. This was second only to the 2002 outbreak in Illinois in which 884 residents contracted West Nile disease and 67 died.
Surveillance for West Nile virus in Illinois includes laboratory tests on mosquito batches, dead crows, blue jays, robins and other perching birds, as well as testing sick horses and humans with West Nile-like disease symptoms. People who observe a sick or dying crow, blue jay, robin or other perching bird should contact their local health department.
Public health officials believe that a hot summer increases mosquito activity and the risk of disease from West Nile virus.
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 West Nile virus will not show any symptoms. In rare cases, severe illness including meningitis or encephalitis, or even death, can occur. People older than 50 are at higher risk for severe illness from West Nile virus.
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.
Additional information about West Nile virus can be found on the Illinois Department of Public Health's website at www.idph.state.il.us.