Southern Seven Health Dept. to begin annual testing for West Nile Virus

Southern Seven Health Dept. to begin annual testing for West Nile Virus

SOUTHERN ILLINOIS (KFVS) - The Southern Seven Health Department announced it will start its annual trapping of mosquitoes the week of May 18.

Trapping will be in the lower seven counties in Illinois and will continue in the region through fall.

In 2019, the health department reported positive West Nile Virus pools in Massac and Union Counties. A pool is the number of mosquitoes in one net collection. The department collected nets once a week from each of the counties.

According to the health department, West Nile Virus is the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease in the continental United States. There are no vaccines to prevent, nor specific medications to treat it in people, but there are steps you can take to prevent contracting the virus.

Monitoring for it in Illinois includes lab tests for mosquito batches, dead crows, blue jays, robins and other perching birds, as well as testing sick horses and humans with West Nile-like symptoms.

People who see a sick or dying crow, blue jay, robin or other perching bird should contact their local health department, which will determine if the bird will be picked up for testing.

West Nile is transmitted through the bite of a house mosquito that picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird. It is not spread through coughing, sneezing or touching. It is not spread by touching live or dead animals, however, it’s recommended you use gloves or double plastic bags to dispose of a dead bird.

The virus also cannot be spread through eating infected birds or animals.

Common symptoms of West Nile Virus include fever, nausea, headache and muscle aches.

Symptoms may last from a few days to a few weeks. However, four out of five people infected with WNV will not show any symptoms.

In rare cases, the health department said severe illnesses including meningitis, encephalitis or even death can occur. People over the age of 60 and those with weakened immune systems are at higher risk for severe illness from the virus.

You can reduce your risk of contracting WNV by following the three “Rs”:

  1. REDUCE - 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. Eliminate, or refresh each week, all sources of standing water where mosquitoes can breed, including water in bird baths, ponds, flowerpots, wading pools, old tires and any other containers.
  2. REPEL - when outdoors, wear shoes and socks, long pants and a light-colored, 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. Do not use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol on children under 3 years old. Do not apply insect repellent to a child’s hands, eyes, mouth, cuts or irritated skin. Spray insect repellent onto your hands and then apply to a child’s face.
  3. REPORT – report locations where you see water sitting stagnant for more than a week such as roadside ditches, flooded yards and similar locations that may produce mosquitoes. The local health department or city government may be able to add larvicide to the water, which will kill any mosquito eggs.

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