Mosquitoes test positive for West Nile in Madison County

News-DemocratJuly 25, 2013 

AP GRAPHIC

More mosquitoes in Madison County have tested positive for West Nile virus.

The Madison County Health Department announced Thursday that mosquitoes from Bethalto, Edwardsville, Glen Carbon and Meadowbrook tested positive for the virus. This follows the first positive tests on June 26, from mosquitoes in Mitchell.

West Nile virus is transmitted via bites from mosquitoes that have already fed on infected birds. In 2002, West Nile infected 884 people and caused the deaths of 67 people in Illinois, with lower numbers reported in ensuing years.

Last year, there were 290 cases with 12 deaths, with positive tests in 55 counties. This year, 32 counties have reported four infected birds and 149 positive mosquito batches, but no human cases or deaths have been reported, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Nationally, there have been 31 West Nile cases reported to the federal Centers for Disease Control, with three deaths.

The best way to prevent West Nile is to reduce the number of mosquitoes, according to the Madison County Health Department. "We need your help to reduce the number of mosquitoes, reduce opportunities for mosquitoes and prevent bites," said spokesman Mary Cooper.

Ways to avoid being bitten include:

* Avoid being outdoors in early mornings and twilight when mosquitoes are most active.

* Eliminate sources of standing water where mosquitoes can breed, such as flowerpots and old tires. Change birdbath water weekly. Report areas of stagnant water to municipal governments.

* Wear shoes and socks, long pants and wear insect repellent when outdoors.

* If you find a dead bird that is not decomposed with no obvious cause of death, you can report it to the Madison County Health Department. Eligible birds will be collected and tested. The carcass must be refrigerated until it is collected.

To report a dead bird, call 296-6079 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Nearly 80 percent of people infected with West Nile develop no symptoms, according to the CDC. Some will develop a fever, headache, body aches, vomiting and rash, with fatigue that can last for weeks. But 1 percent of those infected can develop serious neurologic illness such as encephalitis or meningitis, which can be fatal. There is currently no vaccine or specific antiviral treatment.

Contact reporter Elizabeth Donald at edonald@bnd.com or 239-2507.

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