SOUTHERN Ill. (KFVS) - The Southern Seven Health Department will begin its annual testing for West Nile virus.
Starting the week of May 24, the health department will start its annual trapping of mosquitoes throughout the lower seven counties in Illinois to test for West Nile. Trapping will continue in the region through the fall.
The virus is transmitted through the bite of a Culex pipiens mosquito, commonly called a house mosquito, that picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird.
Monitoring for West Nile virus in southern 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 virus-like symptoms.
People who see a sick or dying crow, blue jay, robin or other perching bird should contact their local health department.
The virus is not spread through coughing, sneezing or touching.
It also isn’t spread by touching live or dead animals, however, avoid bare-handed contact when touching any dead animal.
If you are disposing of a dead bird, use gloves or double plastic bags to place the carcass in a garbage can.
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 the virus will not show any symptoms.
In rare cases, the health department said severe illness including meningitis, encephalitis or even death, can occur.
People over the age of 60 and people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk for severe illness from the virus.
If you have symptoms of West Nile virus, contact your physician immediately.
You can reduce your risk of West Nile virus by following the three “R’s” reduce, repel and report.