“The weather is warming up and we’re starting to see
West Nile virus,” said IDPH Director Nirav D. Shah, M.D., J.D.
“Although we see West Nile virus in Illinois every year, it’s still
important to take precautions to protect yourself by wearing insect
repellent and getting rid of standing water around your home.”
Monitoring for West Nile virus in Illinois includes laboratory tests
for mosquito batches, dead crows, blue jays, robins and other
perching birds, as well as testing sick horses and humans with West
Nile virus-like 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 Culex pipiens
mosquito, commonly called a house mosquito, that has picked up the
virus by feeding on an infected bird. Common 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
including meningitis or encephalitis, or even death, can occur.
People older than 50 and individuals with weakened immune systems
are at higher risk for severe illness from West Nile virus.
The first West Nile virus positive result in 2016 was a blue jay in
Douglas County collected on May 20, 2016. Last year, 61 counties in
Illinois reported a West Nile virus positive mosquito batch, bird
and/or human case. For the 2016 season, IDPH reported 152 human
cases (although human cases are underreported), including five
deaths. No human cases of West Nile virus have been reported so far
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While IDPH is also monitoring for Zika virus, which is primarily
transmitted through the bite of a mosquito, the main type of mosquito that
carries Zika virus, Aedes aegypti, is different and is rarely found in Illinois.
However, taking some simple precautions can help you avoid mosquito bites,
regardless of the type of mosquito or the diseases they carry.
Precautions include practicing the three “R’s” – reduce, repel,
REDUCE - make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens. Repair
or replace screens that have tears or other openings. Try to keep doors and
Eliminate, or refresh each week, all sources of standing water where mosquitoes
can breed, including water in bird baths, ponds, flowerpots, wading pools, old
tires, and any other containers.
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 according to label instructions. Consult a
physician before using repellents on infants.
REPORT – report locations where you see water sitting stagnant for more
than a week such as roadside ditches, flooded yards, and similar locations that
may produce mosquitoes. The local health department or city government may be
able to add larvicide to the water, which will kill any mosquito eggs.
Additional information about West Nile virus can be found on the
[Illinois Department of Public