Mosquitoes found in Jackson County test positive for West Nile virus
Routine mosquito testing has identified the first batch of mosquitoes positive for West Nile virus in Jackson County in 2017.
The Jackson County Health Department reported that the mosquitoes were collected on July 12 near Murphysboro.
West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird.
Four out of five people who are bitten by an infected mosquito will not experience any illness.
Those who do get sick commonly experience fever, nausea, headache and body aches within three to 14 days of the bite.
However, serious illness such as encephalitis and meningitis, with lingering complications and even death, are possible.
In 2016, there were 152 human cases of West Nile virus reported in Illinois, including five deaths.
No human cases have been reported yet this year in Illinois, but neighboring states have reported viral activity.
Bart Hagston, environmental health director for Jackson County Health Department, cautions: “We are now in the very hot time of year when West Nile virus activity begins to amplify. Residents across Jackson County and beyond should take action to protect themselves from mosquito bites.”
Because West Nile virus activity in Culex mosquitoes increases during hot weather, personal protection against mosquitoes is particularly important during this time of the year.
Individuals can reduce their risk of West Nile illness and other mosquito-borne diseases with the three “R’s”: reduce, repel, report.
Reduce Exposure: avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, especially between dusk and dawn. Keep doors and windows closed.
Eliminate sources of standing water where mosquitoes can breed, including wading pools, old tires, and other receptacles. Change bird bath water weekly.
Repel: when outdoors, wear shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt.
Apply EPA-registered insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535 according to the label.
Report: in communities where there are organized mosquito control programs, contact your local government to report areas of stagnant water in roadside ditches and similar locations that may produce mosquitoes.
Hagston especially encourages Jackson County residents to call the health department to report sick or deceased crows, blue jays, robins or other perching birds.
Officials will determine if the bird should be submitted to a lab for West Nile virus testing.
The Southern Seven Health Department also serves area counties.
Additional information about West Nile virus can be found on the Jackson County Health Department’s web site at www.jchdonline.org, click on “West Nile virus” on the “A-Z Topics” tab, or call the health department at 618-684-3143 for more information.