Southern 7 Health Department to Begin Annual Testing for West Nile Virus

ILLINOIS (KFVS) – Beginning the week of May 23, the Southern Seven Health Department (S7HD) will begin its annual mosquito trapping in Illinois’ lower seven counties to test for West Nile virus (WNV).

S7HD indicates that trapping will continue in the area until the fall.

West Nile virus (WNV), the leading cause of mosquito-borne illness in the continental United States, has no drugs or vaccines that can help prevent or treat it.

According to S7HD, WNV is transmitted by the bite of a household mosquito that has contracted the virus by feeding on an infected bird.

If you see a sick or dying crow, blue jay, robin or other perching bird, the S7HD advises you to contact your local health department, who will determine if the bird will be picked up for testing.

The virus is not transmitted by coughing, sneezing or touching. It is not spread by touching live or dead animals; however, avoid contact with bare hands when touching a 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 by eating infected birds or animals.

Common symptoms of WNV include fever, nausea, headache, and muscle aches. Symptoms can last from a few days to a few weeks; however, four out of five people infected with WNV will not show any symptoms.

S7HD indicates that people over 60 and people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of contracting serious illness from the virus. If you have symptoms of West Nile virus, contact your doctor immediately.

According to a statement from S7HD, you can reduce your risk of WNV by following “the three Rs”:

  • Reduce – Make sure doors and windows have snug-fitting screens. Repair or replace screens that have tears or other openings. Try to keep doors and windows closed. Eliminate or refresh weekly all sources of standing water where mosquitoes can breed, including water from birdbaths, ponds, flower pots, paddling pools, old tires and any other containers.
  • Repel – Outside, wear shoes and socks, long pants and a light-colored long-sleeved shirt, and apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, lemon eucalyptus oil or IR 3535 according to label instructions. Consult a physician before using repellents on infants. Do not use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD) on children under 3 years of age. Do not apply insect repellent to a child’s hands, eyes, mouth, cuts or irritated skin. Spray insect repellent on your hands, then apply it to a child’s face.
  • Report – Report places where you see standing water for more than a week, such as roadside ditches, flooded yards, and similar places that can breed mosquitoes. The local health department or city government may be able to add a larvicide to the water, which will kill any mosquito eggs.

For more information, call Miranda Adams, director of environmental health services for the Southern Seven Health Department at 618-634-2297x. 9114 or click here.

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