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Public health officials offers tips after West Nile virus found in Illinois

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mosquito, image from IDPH

The Illinois Department of Public Health has reported that the West Nile virus has been found in a batch of mosquitoes in norther Illinois. The North Shore Mosquito Abatement District collected the bath on May 25, 2016 in Glenview, Illinois.

“As temperatures increase, we’ll start seeing more mosquitoes so it’s important to take precautions to protect yourself by wearing insect repellent and getting rid of standing water around your home,” says IDPH Director Nirav D. Shah.

Surveillance for the West Nile virus in Illinois includes lab tests on batches of mosquitoes, dead crows, blue jays, robins and other perching bird. Sick horses and humans showing symptoms are also tested.

RELATED: Iowa State researchers step up mosquito surveillance following spread of Zika

West Nile virus is transmitted through mosquito bites that picks up the virus after feeding from infected birds. Symptoms include fever, nausea, headache and muscle aches that can last a few days to a few weeks.

However, four out of five people won’t show symptoms, says the IDPH.

In rare cases, the virus can cause other health complications, and even death. People older than 50 and those with compromised immune systems are at a higher risk for severe illness from the virus.

The first bird of the year that tested positive for carrying West Nile Virus in Illinois was a blue jay found in Arcola Township, Douglas County.

In 2015, 64 counties in Illinois reported finding mosquitoes, birds or humans that tested positive for the virus. The IDPH reported 77 human cases with nine deaths.

This year, no humans have yet been reported to test positive for West Nile in Illinois.

Reduce, repel and report

The Illinois Department of Public Health says it’s important to reduce the mosquito population at your home and offers the following suggestions:

  • 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.
  • Eliminate or refresh all sources of standing water each week. That’s where mosquitoes can breed. This includes bird baths, ponds, flowerpots, wading pools, old tires and other containers that collect water.
  • Wear shoes, socks, long pants and long-sleeved t-shirts when spending time outdoors. Apply insect repellent that containts DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR 3535 according to label instructions. Consult a physician before using repellents on infants.
  • Report locations to local health departments or city governments where you see sitting, stagnant water for more than a week, such as roadside ditches, flooded yards, etc.

CLICK HERE to find more information on West Nile virus from the IDPH

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