6/29/02 - Bugs Off

Authorities in Southern Illinois have found another dead bird contaminated with the West Nile Virus.

They found a dead, contaminated crow in the Murphysboro area, a week after a dead, contaminated blue jay was discovered in Carbondale. Two cases in one week equals a lot of concerned residents.
People are concerned because mosquitoes can feed off those dead birds and carry the virus to humans. Bonnie Barney says it's just one more thing she has to worry about, before she sends her loved ones outside.

When her granddaughter Dannisha and her nephew Napolean are ready to go outside, Bonnie makes sure they're protected against mosquitoes that could be carrying the West Nile Virus. "I'm kind of afraid, more for the kids because I can protect myself more than they can," Bonnie says. She makes they have on plenty of insect repellant before they head outdoors, but often, that's still not enough. "I've got some on me now," Napolean says. Even though Bonnie's a little nervous, she doesn't want to force the kids to stay inside. Dannisha says, "I like to play with my cousins and go to the park." And this time of year, it's almost impossible to keep children indoors and away from mosquitoes.

If your child comes home with a mosquito bite after being outside, don't panic. So far, there have been no cases of West Nile in humans in our area. Kevin Gillespie with the Jackson County Health Department says, "In most cases even if the mosquito had the West Nile Virus and bites someone, the person may not show symptoms. Taking precautions can reduce your risk."

The best way to protect yourself against mosquitoes is to wear light colored, loose fitting clothes, long sleeves and pants are best. You'll also want to use an insect repellant with the chemical DEET, but talk to your doctor before you use DEET on your children. The Jackson County Health Department is monitoring for the virus. If anyone finds a dead crow or blue jay, it may be a sign West Nile is in your area, and you should call local health officials.