Vandalia, IL -(Effingham Radio)- According to Jodi Smith, Director of Environmental Health for Fayette County Health Department, “Routine mosquito testing has identified the first West Nile virus positive batch of mosquitoes in Fayette County in 2018. These results demonstrate the continued need for people to ensure they are protected from mosquito bites.” The mosquito sample was collected in rural Beecher City on July 24 and tested on July 25.
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 3 to 14 days of the bite. However, serious illness such as encephalitis and meningitis, with lingering complications and even death, are possible. In 2017 there were 90 human cases of West Nile Virus in Illinois, including deaths. Two human cases have been reported this year in Illinois.
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 by practicing 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 IR 3535 according to label instructions.
REPORT – in communities where there are organized mosquito control programs, contact your municipal government to report areas of stagnant water in roadside ditches and
similar locations that may produce mosquitoes. Smith especially encourages Fayette 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.
Additional information about West Nile virus can be found on the Illinois Department of Public Health’s Web site at http://www.dph.illinois.gov/topics services/diseases-andconditions/west-nile-virus/surveillance or people can call the West Nile Virus Hotline at 866-369-9710 Monday through Friday from 8 am to 5 pm.