Latest findings on West Nile virus

Latest findings on West Nile virus


The Winnebago County Health Department reports two out of six mosquito traps (gravid traps) tested positive for the WNV from samples collected on Thursday (Aug. 15) and confirmed by the IDPH laboratory on Wednesday, Aug. 21. At the same time, two more dead crows tested positive for the West Nile virus (WNV), as dead crow reports to the department’s hotline continue to increase. This department has been tracking the number of dead crow reports per square mile by zip code. This information, in turn, assists the weekly mosquito surveillance, both of which provide a guide to those areas of the community where WNV transmission potential is highest. To date, those areas have been 61108, 61104, 61107 and 61114.

These findings are reflective of similar surveillance findings throughout the state with now over 80 percent of Illinois counties having one or more positive test findings for the WNV. Thus far, there have been no confirmed human cases in northern Illinois outside of the Chicago collar county area. But these most recent findings in Winnebago County continue to emphasize the importance of everyone taking appropriate precautions to avoid mosquito bites. These precautions are two-fold as follows:

l Prevent mosquito bites by trying to limit time outdoors between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes of concern are most active. If outdoors during these times especially, wear long-sleeve, loose-fitting, lightly colored clothing. Supplement this with mosquito repellent containing 25-35 percent DEET (less than 10 percent for children, not applied to the hands). Also, make sure window and door screens are in good repair.

l Prevent mosquitoes from breeding. Mosquitoes can develop into adults in as little as a week when water is available and temperatures are as warm as they have been. No less than every four to five days, eliminate standing water from bird baths, flower pots, wading pools or swimming pool covers, clogged drain spouts, old tires or any other containers that may hold even the smallest amounts of water in and around your property.

Based on nationwide experience over the previous three years of WNV presence in the United States, the peak period for WNV transmission, particularly to humans, has been from the last week of August through the middle of September. It is important to keep in mind, however, that this is influenced by many environmental factors that affect the viral amplification cycle (e.g., weather, host and vector densities, immune status and other characteristics).

The WNV is transmitted to humans through mosquito bites. Most individuals who contract an infection of WNV have no symptoms. Only a small portion of those infected develop mild symptoms which can include fever, weakness, headache, body aches, nausea and perhaps vomiting, skin rash, swollen lymph glands. Less than 1 percent of those infected develop more severe illness that can include severe headaches, high fever, muscle weakness, stiff neck, disorientation, etc. There is no specific treatment for WNV nor a vaccine to prevent it. Medical supportive care should be sought as soon as possible for individuals who have symptoms suggesting illness.

The community is reminded of the importance of everyone’s participation in continuing their focus on reducing the mosquito population through source reduction and encouraging residents to eliminate standing water on their property and in their neighborhood and/or to assure that such water is being treated with appropriate larviciding agents. All municipalities in the Rockford urban area have been participating in an extra effort to place larvacide pellets in wet catch basins throughout the community. The larvacide will prevent mosquito larvae from developing into adult mosquitoes. These activities are continuing to be carried out by the City of Rockford and other communities in the county.

Additionally, the department has established a WNV information line in addition to the dead crow hotline. This information will be manned by public health professionals with special training on the WNV and should be able to answer most questions presented by the public or know where to obtain answers for the public. This number is 720-4240. The hours of operation are: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The information line is not meant to replace the dead crow hotline, where individuals are encouraged to continue reporting the location of dead crows observed. The dead crow hotline number is 720-4242.

Dead crows do not represent a WNV threat. If a dead crow needs to be removed, please take precautions to handle it with a shovel, gloves or double thickness plastic bags and place into a garbage bag or garbage can for disposal with the trash.

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!