Vandalia, IL – According to Jodi Cyr, Supervising Sanitarian for Fayette County Health Department, “Routine mosquito testing has identified the first West Nile virus positive batches of mosquitoes in Fayette County in 2015. These results demonstrate the continued need for people to ensure they are protected from mosquito bites.” The mosquito samples were collected in rural Ramsey and rural Shobonier/St. Peter on August 11 and tested on August 12.
Because West Nile virus activity in Culex mosquitoes increases during hot weather, personal protection against mosquitoes is particularly important during this time of the year. Individuals can reduce their risk of West Nile illness and other mosquito-borne diseases by taking these precautions:
• Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, especially between dusk and dawn.
• When outdoors, wear shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt.
• Use insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus according to label instructions. Consult a physician before using repellents on infants.
• Eliminate sources of standing water that can support mosquito breeding, including water in bird baths, ponds, flowerpots, wading pools, old tires and any other receptacles. 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.
West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird. Only about two persons out of every ten who are bitten by an infected mosquito will experience any illness. Illness from West Nile disease normally occurs three to 14 days after the bite of an infected mosquito and is usually mild and includes fever, headache and body aches. However, serious illness such as encephalitis and meningitis, with lingering complications and even death, are possible. Persons older than 50 years of age have the highest risk of severe disease.
Fayette County Health Department has been conducting a West Nile virus surveillance program since April that includes trapping adult mosquitoes and testing them for the West Nile virus. The health department also sends birds that have recently died from unknown causes to a state laboratory to test for West Nile virus. Persons who observe a dying or newly dead crow, blue jay, robin or other perching bird should contact the health department at 618-283-1044, and officials will determine if the bird will be picked up for testing.
Although steps have been taken to identify potential mosquito breeding sites, and to either eliminate these sites or treat them with mosquito larvicides, it is important that everybody do their part now to protect themselves and their family from mosquito bites during this time.
Forty one other counties in Illinois have previously reported a batch of mosquitoes or bird positive for West Nile virus so far in 2015. No human cases have been reported in Illinois this year.
Additional information about West Nile virus can be found on the Illinois Department of Public Health’s Web site at http://www.dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/diseases-and-conditions/west-nile-virus/surveillance or people can call the West Nile Virus Hotline at 866-369-9710 Monday through Friday from 8 am to 5 pm.