Wednesday, June 7

First bird testing positive for West Nile virus found in DeWitt County     Send a link to a friend

[JUNE 7, 2006]  SPRINGFIELD -- Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director, announced Tuesday that a crow collected by the DeWitt-Piatt Bi-County Health Department has been confirmed as the first positive West Nile virus bird in Illinois this year.

The Illinois Department of Public Health was notified by the DeWitt-Piatt Bi-County Health Department of the findings as part of routine surveillance for West Nile virus. The positive crow was collected on May 31 in Farmer City.

"This crow is more evidence of West Nile virus activity in the state," Whitaker said. "So far this year we've seen positive test results for the virus in mosquitoes in northern and southern Illinois, and now this bird in central Illinois. This should serve as a reminder to people to take precautions against mosquito bites."

The best way to prevent West Nile disease or any other mosquito-borne illness is to reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home and take personal precautions to avoid mosquito bites. Precautions include the following:

  • Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, especially between dusk and dawn. Use prevention methods whenever mosquitoes are present.

  • When outdoors, wear shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, and apply insect repellent that includes DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus, following the instructions on the label. Consult a physician before using repellents on infants.

  • 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, especially at night.

  • Eliminate all sources of standing water that can support mosquito breeding, including water in birdbaths, 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.

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Last year, 57 of the state's 102 counties were found to have a West Nile-positive bird, mosquito, horse or human case. A total of 252 human cases of West Nile disease, including 12 deaths, were reported last year in Illinois.

Surveillance for West Nile virus in Illinois began May 1 and includes laboratory tests on mosquitoes, dead crows, blue jays and robins, and the testing of sick horses and humans with symptoms like West Nile disease. Citizens who observe a sick or dying crow, blue jay or robin should contact their local health department, which will determine if the bird is to be picked up for testing.

West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird. Most people with the virus have no clinical symptoms of illness, but some may become ill three to 14 days after the bite of an infected mosquito. The first human case in Illinois is not usually reported until July or later.

Only about two people out of 10 who are bitten by an infected mosquito will experience any illness. Illness from West Nile is usually mild and includes fever, headache and body aches, but serious illness, such as encephalitis and meningitis, and death are possible. People older than 50 years of age have a highest risk of severe disease.

Additional information about West Nile virus is available at (866) 369-9710 Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. and at

[Illinois Department of Public Health news release]


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