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Two crows in Winnebago County test positive for West Nile virus
Posted By Brandon Reid On July 26, 2012 @ 1:59 pm In Happening Now, Local News | No Comments
Online Staff Report
The Winnebago County Health Department announced July 26 that two crows found in Rockford 61104 and 61088 ZIP code areas have tested positive with 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 10th year in a row. Based on the hot, dry weather and the early onset of positive mosquito and birds with WNV indicate we are entering the period of high risk for WNV infection in humans. To date this season, there has not been any human cases reported in Winnebago County.”
The Illinois Department of Public Health indicates the recent extreme heat conditions are ever increasing the risk of the WNV infection.
During the current extreme heat wave, residents are naturally most focused on protecting themselves from the heat. However, there is an incorrect general perception that the recent drought has eliminated most mosquitoes.
Actually, the drought has eliminated the “floodwater mosquitoes,” which are rarely infected with WNV. In contrast, the extreme heat and dry weather actually favors the culex mosquito, the primary carrier of WNV, which breeds in street catch basins and similar locations.
The recent high temperature accelerates WNV multiplication in the mosquito and mosquitoes feeding on birds, since birds and mosquitoes are concentrated in ever shrinking pools of stagnant water.
The Illinois Department of Public Health is confirming West Nile virus in birds and mosquitoes and two human cases in 30 Illinois counties so far in 2012, compared to 19 counties for all of 2011.
WNV is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird. WNV is an infection that can cause serious illness, but most people infected with WNV have no signs or symptoms of illness.
Most people with the virus have no clinical symptoms of illness, but some may become ill three to 15 days after the bite of an infected mosquito. Those with mild symptoms may have a fever, headache, body aches, skin rash or swollen lymph glands, but those with serious symptoms such as encephalitis and meningitis should seek medical assistance. People at the highest risk for serious illness are those 50 years of age or older.
The best way to prevent WNV or any other mosquito-borne illness is to reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home and to take personal precautions to avoid mosquito bites. Precautions include practicing the three “Rs” — reduce, repel and report, as follow:
• Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, especially between dusk and dawn.
• 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 shut, especially at night.
• Eliminate all sources of standing water where mosquitoes can breed, including water in bird baths, ponds, flowerpots, wading pools, old tires and any other receptacles.
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.
“Every WNV season, the Winnebago County Health Department offers a phone line for residents to report the location of recently expired birds,” said WNV Program Manager Todd Marshall.
The report line number to call is (815) 720-4245.
After calling in a report of a dead bird, leave it where it lays for 24 hours. If the Health Department doesn’t pick it up for testing, you can dispose of the bird yourself.
“When calling the hotline to report dead birds, leave the address, the location of the bird on the property, the town and ZIP code, and number of dead birds found,” Marshall added.
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. Use a shovel, gloves or double-plastic bags to place the carcass in a garbage bag or can.
The Health Department has also opened a WNV information line for residents who have questions or wish to speak to a health professional. That number is (815) 720-4240.
For more about WNV, visit the following websites:
• Illinois Department of Public Health at www.idph.state.il.us 
• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov.ncidod/dvbid/westnile/index.htm 
• Winnebago County Health Department at www.wchd.org 
Posted July 26, 2012
Article printed from The Rock River Times: http://rockrivertimes.com
URL to article: http://rockrivertimes.com/2012/07/26/two-crows-in-winnebago-county-test-positive-for-west-nile-virus/
URLs in this post:
 www.idph.state.il.us: http://www.idph.state.il.us
 www.cdc.gov.ncidod/dvbid/westnile/index.htm: http://www.cdc.gov.ncidod/dvbid/westnile/index.htm
 www.wchd.org: http://www.wchd.org
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