Crow in Winnebago County positive for West Nile virus
From press release
The Winnebago County Health Department announced Aug. 19 that one crow, found in Loves Park’s 61111 ZIP code area, has confirmed positive for West Nile virus (WNV).
“This finding is not surprising,” said Larry Swacina, Environmental Health director for the Winnebago County Health Department. “West Nile virus has been confirmed to be present in Winnebago County for the ninth year in a row.”
Based on nationwide experience in Illinois over the previous nine years of WNV presence in the United States, the peak period for WNV transmission, particularly to humans, has been from mid-July through the middle of October. It is important to keep in mind again 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 Winnebago County Health Department opened a phone line for the residents to report the location and number of dead birds,” Swacina added. The report line number to call is (815) 720-4245.
“After reporting a dead bird, it was advised to the caller to dispose of the bird themselves, if it was not picked up for testing within 24 hours of the call,” added Larry.
Remember that dead birds cannot spread WNV, but it is advised to avoid barehanded contact with dead birds and other animals since they carry a variety of germs. “Please use a shovel, gloves or double-plastic bags to place the carcass in garbage bag or can,” Swacina said.
The Health Department has also opened a West Nile Virus Information line for residents who have questions or wish to speak to a health professional. That number is (815) 720-4240.
WNV is transmitted to humans from the bite of a mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird. In the summer of 2009, Winnebago County Health Department received 80 calls from the general public with questions about WNV and dead bird reports. Those calls resulted in five birds being sent to the state lab with one being confirmed as positive with infection by WNV.
The best protection against mosquito-borne encephalitis is to limit activities at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes that could carry the virus are most active. Protective clothing will ideally include lightweight, loose-fitting, long-sleeved shirts, pants and socks. It’s best to always apply a repellant containing DEET (25 percent for adults, 10 percent for children, and not recommended for infants) when going outdoors. Last year, CDC has added two new products containing picaridin and lemon of eucalyptus. Both ingredients have also proven effective as mosquito repellents.
Personal/home precautions to prevent mosquito-borne encephalitis include the following:
• Alert health authorities to potential mosquito breeding sites in your area.
• Avoid outdoor activities in the early morning and at dusk. Whenever outdoors between dusk and dawn, wear shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Loose-fitting, light-colored clothing is best.
• Apply insect repellent to exposed skin. An effective repellent will contain 25 to 35 percent of the active ingredient DEET or picaridin or lemon of eucalyptus. Spray the repellent not only on exposed skin but also on clothing. Consult a physician before using repellents on very young children.
• Drain standing water in your yard at least once a week. Pour water from mosquito breeding sites, such as flower pots, pet bowls, clogged rain gutters, swimming pool covers, boats, discarded tires, buckets, barrels, cans, or similar items in which mosquitoes can lay eggs. For permanent standing pools of water, mosquito larvicide can be used. The larvicide can be purchased from many retail stores selling garden supplies. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for use.
• Check screens on porches and patios for tears and other openings.
Most people infected with WNV have no signs or symptoms of illness. Some individuals may become ill, usually three to 15 days after having been bitten by an infected mosquito. The virus may occasionally cause serious complications. In some individuals, particularly the elderly, the virus can cause muscle weakness, inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), stiff neck, stupor, disorientation, tremors, convulsions, paralysis, coma or death. It should be noted that the odds of being bitten by an infected mosquito and developing serious or life-threatening symptoms are minimal. Nevertheless, taking all recommended precautions is encouraged, because of the potential seriousness of becoming infected by WNV, St. Louis or La Crosse encephalitis.
For more information about WNV, visit the following websites:
Illinois Department of Public Health at idph.state.il.us
Center for Disease Control at cdc.gov.ncidod/dvbid/westnile/index.htm
Winnebago County Health Department at wchd.org
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