The Bureau County Health Department has confirmed that a crow collected on August 8th in Princeton, Illinois has tested positive for West Nile Virus. The confirmatory test was performed at the Health Department.
In nature, West Nile Virus cycles between mosquitoes (especially Culex species) and birds. Some infected birds can develop high levels of the virus in their bloodstream and mosquitoes can become infected by biting these infected birds. After about a week, infected mosquitoes can pass the virus to more birds when they bite. Mosquitoes with West Nile virus also bite and infect people, horses and other mammals. However, humans, horses and other mammals are ‘dead end’ hosts. This means that they do not develop high levels of virus in their bloodstream and cannot pass the virus on to other biting mosquitoes.
“We are urging the public to use precautions against mosquito bites while attending outdoor events,” said Hector Gomez, Bureau, Putnam & Marshall County Health Department Administrator. “Common symptoms include fever, nausea, headache and muscle aches, however, severe illness including meningitis or even death can occur in rare cases.” People older than 50 or those with compromised immune systems are at higher risk of severe illness from the virus.
Most people (8 out of 10) infected with West Nile Virus do not develop any symptoms.
Febrile illness (fever) in some people. About 1 in 5 people who are infected develop a fever with other symptoms such as headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash. Most people with this type of West Nile virus disease recover completely, but fatigue and weakness can last for weeks or months.
Serious symptoms in a few people. About 1 in 150 people who are infected develop a severe illness affecting the central nervous system such as encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord).
West Nile Virus is transmitted through the bite of the common house mosquito, Culex pipiens. Taking simple precautions can help you avoid bites from these mosqitoes, which are more common in urban and suburban settings.
Tips for reducing mosquitoes around homes
Mosquitoes require water for reproduction. The following are measures that can help reduce mosquitoes:
- Eliminate standing water suitable for mosquitoes. Dispose of water-holding containers, such as ceramic pots, used tires, and tire swings.
- Drill holes in the bottom of containers such as those used for recycling.
- Clean clogged roof gutters.
- Turn over objects that may trap water when not in use, such as wading pools and wheelbarrows.
- Change water in bird baths on a weekly basis.
- Clean and chlorinate swimming pools. When pools are not in use, use pool covers and drain when necessary.
Tips for avoiding mosquito bites when outdoors
Mosquitoes require a blood meal for reproduction. The following are measures that can help reduce bites from mosquitoes that feed on people:
- Minimize outdoor activities at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
- Wear shoes, socks, long pants, and long-sleeved shirts. Clothing material should be tightly woven and loose fitting.
- Use mosquito netting when sleeping outdoors.
- Consider the use of CDC-recommended mosquito repellants, containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, IR3535, or 2-undecanone, and apply according to directions, when it is necessary to be outdoors.
- When using DEET, use the lowest concentration effective for the time spent outdoors (for example, 6 percent lasts approximately two hours and 20 percent for four hours) and wash treated skin when returning indoors. Do not apply under clothing, to wounds or irritated skin, the hands of children, or to infants less than two months old.
- Be sure door and window screens are tight fitting and in good repair to avoid mosquito bites when indoors.