Woodford County Health Department (WCHD) has received confirmation that a deceased Cooper’s hawk found in the Eureka area tested positive for West Nile Virus. This is the first bird that has tested positive for West Nile Virus in Woodford County this year. West Nile Virus can be transmitted to humans through mosquitos that have feed on a bird that has the virus. Although there have been no mosquito batches that have tested positive for West Nile Virus so far this season, WCHD will continue testing mosquito batches placed throughout the county until mid-October.
West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of a female Culex pipiens mosquito, commonly called a house mosquito, which has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird. Common symptoms include fever, nausea, headache and muscle aches. Symptoms may last from a few days to a few weeks. However, four out of five people infected with West Nile virus will not show any symptoms. In rare cases, severe illness including meningitis or encephalitis, or even death, can occur. People older than 50 and individuals with weakened immune systems are at higher risk for severe illness from West Nile virus.
WCHD recommends using insect repellent to avoid mosquito bites and to reduce the risk of acquiring any mosquito-borne diseases. Insect repellent that is most effective contains EPA-registered active ingredients such as DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus and IR 3535.
Horse owners should also take precautions to minimize exposure of their animals to mosquitoes. A vaccine to protect horses from West Nile Virus is available. While susceptible to the virus, horses are not known to transmit the disease to other horses or humans. For more information regarding West Nile Virus and horses, horse owners can contact their veterinarian.
Taking some simple precautions can help residents avoid mosquito bites. Precautions include practicing the three “R’s” – reduce, repel, and report.
REDUCE - make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens. Repair or replace screens that have tears or other openings. Try to keep doors and windows without proper screens shut.
Eliminate, or refresh each week, all sources of standing water where mosquitoes can breed, including water in bird baths, ponds, flowerpots, wading pools, old tires, and any other containers.
REPEL - when outdoors, wear shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, and apply insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR 3535 according to label instructions. Consult a physician before using repellents on infants.
REPORT– report locations where you see water sitting stagnant for more than a week such as roadside ditches, flooded yards, and similar locations that may produce mosquitoes.
For more information regarding West Nile Virus, visit www.woodfordhealth.org, or Illinois Department of Public Health, www.dph.illinois.gov
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