West Nile Virus (WNV) has been on the rise over the past week, with several positive mosquito samples being collected in eastern Madison County, including Collinsville, Edwardsville, Hamel Township, Marine Township, Maryville and Troy.
The Madison County Health Department received confirmation of its first mosquito pool on July 21. That was in Edwardsville. No dead birds submitted for laboratory testing have been positive for WNV yet this season. To date, no human cases have been reported in Illinois in 2015.
West Nile Virus is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird. Investigations by health officials have found that wild birds, especially crows and blue jays, are key indicator species of West Nile Virus in an area. Positive birds and/or positive mosquitoes have been found in 44 Illinois counties this season.
Due to the recent increased WNV activity in mosquitoes, health officials recommend citizens be pro-active in using insect repellent to ward off mosquitoes and wear protective clothing during dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
“We need your help to reduce the number of mosquitoes, reduce opportunities for mosquitoes, and prevent bites. We encourage our citizens to follow these three simple steps of: reduce, repel, and report,” said Mary Cooper, environmental health manager at Madison County Health Department.
The County Surveillance Program followed by local health departments in Illinois is an important tool that is used to gauge appropriate responses to address the potential for human cases of WNV.
There are specific criteria required to test a dead bird for WNV. Birds should be dead within 24-48 hours and not decomposed (strong odor present, dried/deflated eyes, maggots present or bloated with decomposition gases). Birds should have no obvious cause of death. Eligible birds will be submitted to the laboratory by health department staff. Dead birds will be accepted for testing through October 15, 2015. For more information about dead bird collection in your area, contact the Madison County Health Department at (618) 296-6079.
Preventing West Nile
The best way to prevent West Nile Virus 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. Precautions include practicing the three R’s – reduce, repel and report.
REDUCE exposure - avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, especially 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.
REPEL - 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.
REPORT - 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.