West Nile Virus Found in 13 Illinois Counties, Health Officials Encourage Public to “Fight the Bite”

Estimated read time 4 min read

With the onset of summer and rising mosquito activity, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) alerts about early detection of West Nile Virus (WNV) in 13 state counties. Mosquitoes and birds carrying the virus were found in Central Illinois counties like Champaign, Douglas, and Morgan. Detection this year came earlier than usual, with virus initially identified in mid-May.


Detected Early and Counties Affected

IDPH confirmed WNV presence in these counties,

Central Illinois, Champaign, Douglas, Morgan

Other Counties, Cook, Fulton, Kane, Hancock, LaSalle, Washington, Whiteside, Williamson, Winnebago, Woodford

A county is deemed as ‘positive’ for WNV once a bird, mosquito horse or human tests positive for the virus from that county. So far 11 mosquito pools and 10 birds tested positive for WNV.


Impact on Health and Statistics

Last year saw 119 people impacted by WNV in Illinois which was an unfortunate rise from 34 cases reported in 2022. Six residents succumbed to the virus in 2023. Despite no human cases yet reported this year health officials are vigilant due to early detection.


Call to Action by IDPH

Dr. Sameer Vohra, Director at IDPH highlighted community actions needed to lower chance of contracting WNV. “West Nile Virus can lead to serious illness particularly for seniors & those with weakened immune systems in our state. Due to early appearance this year after mild weather conditions, I ask everyone for their support in fighting the bite. Please cut down exposures, wear insect repellent and notify about any standing water which encourages mosquito breeding.”

Steps to Prevent

IDPH listed out ways to fight against WNV spread,
Reduce Exposure, stay indoors during peak mosquito activity i.e. dawn & dusk, keep doors & windows closed, make sure of no holes in screens.

Remove Standing Water, regularly empty items trapping water like bird baths flowerpots wading pools old tires and other water containing receptacles.

Protective Clothing, Wear shoes sock long pants long-sleeved shirts when out.

Insect Repellent Use, Apply EPA registered insect repellents with DEET picaridin oil of lemon eucalyptus IR3535 PMD or 2undecanone.


Surveys and Control Measures

In their ongoing surveillance program IDPH keeps a watch on animal as well as human cases through their West Nile Virus Surveillance page. Additionally, they have distributed $2.8 million among 97 local health departments in Illinois to help further with study as well as control activities. This financing aids to buy larvicides print educational materials and address mosquito concerns.


National Mosquito Control Awareness Week

Running alongside National Mosquito Control Awareness Week (June 1622), officials aim to expand public knowledge about mosquito control and WNV risks while American Mosquito Control Association shares advice for preventing bites and reducing mosquito numbers.

Symptoms And Risks

According to CDC, majority people infected with WNV might not show symptoms. However, approximately one fifth may experience symptoms like fever along-with headache body ache joint pain vomiting diarrhea or skin rashes. Serious conditions could include fatal illnesses like encephalitis and meningitis. People aged 60 plus or those with compromised immunity systems are at an increased risk of severe illness.


Involvement of the Community

Residents are urged to notify locations where stagnant water remains for more than seven days. Such areas inclusive of flooded yards and roadside ditches can be treated with larvicides by local health departments stopping mosquito breeding.


Tests for WNV in Birds

Scott County Health Department advised residents to look out for dead birds acting as WNV indicators. Found dead without clear reasons crows blue jays’ robins and other perching birds become crucial to test. Testing would continue till October 15 focusing on such birds,

  • Dead less than 48 hours
  • Died individually not in groups

Residents should notify health department about these findings and follow correct disposal means when testing isn’t needed.

Ending Note

As mosquito season continues early detection in Illinois urges the need for alertness and taking preventive measures right away. By reducing exposure eradicating standing water using protective measures communities can do their part successfully in controlling West Nile Virus thus safeguarding vulnerable groups.

Celina Brooks https://www.southcountymail.com

Celina Brooks from Mussoorie is a Writer & Researcher. She earned her Engineering degree in IT from Rutgers University. She is a technology enthusiast but loves writing and talking about local news as well. She is a jolly person with 2 children.

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