Thursday, May 24, 2012
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Illinois reports its 1st West Nile-positive test results

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[May 24, 2012]  SPRINGFIELD -- The Illinois Department of Public Health has confirmed the first West Nile virus-positive bird and mosquito batches reported in the state this year.

On May 16, Chicago Department of Public Health employees collected a crow that tested positive for West Nile virus. On May 17, IDPH and DuPage County Health Department environmental health staff collected positive mosquito samples from Lemont and Norridge in Cook County and from Clarendon Hills, Hinsdale, Lisle, Westmont and Woodridge in DuPage County.

"Although it is a little earlier in the season than we normally find West Nile virus-positive mosquito pools and birds, it is not unheard of," said Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck, IDPH director. "This is a good reminder, as we head into the Memorial Day weekend and more people spend time outdoors, that it is important to protect yourself and wear insect repellent."

The first West Nile virus-positive results in 2011 were from two birds collected on June 8 in LaSalle County. Last year 19 counties in Illinois reported a West Nile virus-positive mosquito batch, bird or human case. A total of 34 Illinois residents contracted West Nile virus disease, and three died.

No people have tested positive for West Nile virus so far this year.

Surveillance for West Nile virus in Illinois includes laboratory tests on mosquito batches, dead crows, blue jays, robins and other perching birds, as well as testing sick horses and humans with West Nile-like disease symptoms. People who observe a sick or dying crow, blue jay, robin, or other perching bird should contact their local health department, which will determine if the bird will 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. Common West Nile virus symptoms 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 West Nile virus will not show any symptoms. In rare cases, severe illness can occur, including meningitis or encephalitis, or even death. People older than 50 are at higher risk for severe illness from West Nile virus.

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 practicing the three "R's" -- reduce, repel and report.

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  • REDUCE exposure -- Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, especially between dusk and dawn.

    • 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 where mosquitoes can breed, including water in birdbaths, ponds, flowerpots, wading pools, old tires and any other receptacles.

  • REPEL -- When outdoors, wear shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, and apply insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR 3535, following label instructions. Consult a physician before using repellents on infants.

  • REPORT -- 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.

Public health officials believe that a hot summer increases mosquito activity and the risk of disease from West Nile virus.

Additional information about West Nile virus is available on the Illinois Department of Public Health's website at

[Text from Illinois Department of Public Health file received from the Illinois Office of Communication and Information]

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