West Nile Virus
2:39 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

Illinois' First Case Of West Nile In Birds Found In Monroe County

Mosquito feeding on a human finger.
Credit (via Center for Disease Control and Prevention)

Illinois' first case this year of West Nile virus in a bird has been confirmed. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) the infected starling was collected by the Monroe County Health Department on June 27 in Waterloo, Ill.

This pattern of detection is part of an annual trend seen by health officials in which the West Nile virus is first detected in mosquitoes, followed by birds, and then, people. No cases have been reported so far this year in humans. However, according to health officials, it is only a matter of time before a person is infected.

The year’s first mosquitoes to test positive for the virus were found in Cook County in May. To date, 16 Illinois counties have reported positive results for the West Nile virus in mosquitoes. These counties include:

•             Bureau

•             Clay

•             Cook

•             DuPage

•             Franklin

•             Gallatin

•             Hamilton

•             Macoupin

•             Madison

•             Marion

•             McHenry

•             Peoria

•             Perry

•             Putnam

•             Sangamon

•             St. Clair

(Updates can be found here and are made every Wednesday afternoon).

Last year, 55 of Illinois’ 102 counties reported the virus in mosquitoes, birds or humans. In total, 290 confirmed cases of the disease were found in Illinois residents, resulting in 12 deaths. The 2012 season was second only to 2002 in which 884 residents contracted the disease, and 67 died.

West Nile virus is transmitted by mosquitoes who have picked up the virus from feeding on an infected bird. Common symptoms may last from a few days to a few weeks and include fever, stiff neck, nausea, headache and muscle aches. In rare instances, severe illnesses such as meningitis and encephalitis, or even death, may result from the illness. However, 80 percent of infected individuals do not show any symptoms and require no treatment. People over the age of 50 are at higher risk of severe illness as a result of infection.

Tips To Avoid Contracting West Nile

The best way to avoid contracting the West Nile virus is to take precautions to avoid exposure to mosquitoes and to reduce their population around your home. Here are some tips from state and county officials:

•  Eliminate all sources of standing water around your home. Mosquitoes breed in standing water so regularly draining any standing water from gutters, trash cans, bird baths or any other places standing water collects can help reduce mosquito populations around your home.

•  Repair door and window screens.

•  Wear long-sleeves, pants and light-colored clothes when outdoors. Mosquitoes are most active between dusk and dawn.

•  Spray clothing with mosquito repellents containing DEET or picardin, being careful to follow   label directions, especially for children.

•  Put tablets containing methoprene or Bti (Bacillus thuringensis israelensis) in bird baths or ponds to kill mosquito larvae. Again, be careful to follow label directions.

For more information regarding mosquito control visit here.

In addition to these preventative steps, certain plants can also act as a natural insect repellents. According to the University of Missouri Extension some of the best plants to ward off mosquitoes are:

  • Mint
  • Catnip
  • Lemongrass
  • Rosemary
  • Marigold

More information about these plants and other tips can be found here.

Follow Sarah Skiöld-Hanlin on Twitter@Skihan