Local, state public health official urge continued West Nile virus awareness
Local and state public officials continue to advise the public to be aware of concerns related to West Nile virus.
As testing for the virus continues in Illinois, Southern 7 Health Department is asking everyone to be on the lookout for birds that may have died from the disease in an effort to track infections.
West Nile virus is transmitted to birds through the bite of infected mosquitoes.
Mosquitoes become infected by biting infected birds. Birds considered for testing by the state lab must meet the following criteria:
•The bird is dead, but the carcass is in good condition. Birds should be dead no more than about 48 hours prior to collection, and should not show signs of advanced decomposition (maggots, strong odor, dried or deflated eyes).
•The bird shows no sign it died of causes other than disease. Birds with obvious injuries, such as wounds or missing parts should not be submitted for testing. Likewise, crushed carcasses and birds found along roadways are not acceptable.
•The bird must be one that is acceptable for testing. Some acceptable species are crows, blue jays, grackles, starlings, robins, cardinals, sparrows, finches, hawks and owls. Birds that will not be accepted include pigeons, ducks, geese, chickens, other large birds and endangered species.
Area residents who may have a bird which meets the requirements are asked to contact Southern 7 environmental health director Miranda Adams at 618-634-2297, extension 9114.
The Illinois Department of Public Health, IDPH, reported the first mosquitoes to test positive for West Nile virus in Illinois in 2022 were reported in late May in Roselle in DuPage County. More Illinois counties subsequently had reported batches of mosquitoes that tested positive for West Nile virus.
There are no vaccines to prevent or medications to treat West Nile virus in people.
Most people infected with the virus do not feel sick. About one in five people who are infected develop a fever and other symptoms. About one out of 150 infected people develop a serious, sometimes fatal, illness.
The risk of contracting West Nile virus can be reduced by wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants to prevent mosquito bites.
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.