Health departments in the region are warning residents there have been more mosquito pools testing positive for the West Nile Virus.
During the past week, the St. Clair County Health Department, Madison County Health Department and East Side Health District have seen an increase in the number of mosquito batches testing positive.
On May 26, St. Clair County had its first positive test of the year in O’Fallon. On July 20, the East Side Health District had its first positive test. On July 21, Madison County confirmed West Nile in Edwardsville.
In all, positive mosquito samples have been collected in Belleville, Collinsville, East St. Louis, Edwardsville, Fairview Heights, Freeburg, Hamel Township, Marine Township, Maryville, O’Fallon, Shiloh, Stookey Township and Troy, according to the three health departments.
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However, the three health jurisdictions have not had any human cases of West Nile Virus this year and have not had any dead birds test positive either.
West Nile Virus is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird.
Myla Blandford, assistant administrator at East Side Health District, said the three health departments monitor for West Nile Virus from mid-April through mid-October.
Due to the recent increased West Nile Virus activity in mosquitoes in the metro-east area, health officials recommended residents be pro-active in using insect repellent to ward off mosquitoes and wear protective clothing during dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
Officials also suggested making sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens, repairing any tears in screens and eliminating sources of standing water where mosquitoes can breed.
“It is important that everyone knows what to do to help with the prevention and detection of West Nile Virus,” said Jennifer Meyer, director of the Environmental Program at the St. Clair County Health Department.
The health departments also urged residents who live in communities with organized mosquito control programs, to contact their municipalities to report areas of stagnant water such as in roadside ditches, flooded yards and similar locations that may produce mosquitoes.
“We need your help to reduce the number of mosquitoes, reduce opportunities for mosquitoes and prevent bites,” said Mary Cooper, Environmental Health Manager at Madison County Health Department. “We encourage our citizens to follow these three simple steps of reduce, repel and report.”