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Illinois Department of Public Health reports first 2 mosquito batches of 2024 to test positive for West Nile Virus

IDPH monitoring Cook Co. case of West Nile Virus
IDPH monitoring Cook Co. case of West Nile Virus 00:22

CHICAGO (CBS) — Two batches of mosquitoes in Illinois have tested positive for West Nile Virus for the first time this year, the Illinois Department of Health announced on Friday.

The Northwest Mosquito Abatement District collected the first batch of mosquitoes in Hoffman Estates, Cook County, on Tuesday. A second batch was found in Jacksonville, Morgan County, on Thursday.

The department said the batches follow a mild winter and spring, with the findings coming two weeks earlier than last year.  

"The report of the first two batches to test positive for West Nile virus serves as a timely reminder for Illinoisans to begin protecting themselves from vector-borne diseases," said IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra.

In Douglas County, the first bird to test positive for the virus was found on April 2.

Laboratories in Illinois monitor and perform tests on mosquito batches and dead birds, as well as sick horses and humans with virus-like symptoms.

Anyone who spots a sick or dead crow, blue jay, robin, or other perching bird is advised to contact their local county or city health department.

How is West Nile Virus transmitted?

According to IDPH, the virus is transmitted through the bite of a Culex mosquito, or house mosquito, that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird.

Symptoms of West Nile Virus

Some of the common symptoms of the virus include fever, nausea, headache, and muscle aches. Symptoms may last from a few days to a few weeks.

Most people infected will not show any symptoms, but in rare cases, the virus can lead to severe illness, including meningitis, encephalitis, or even death. People older than 60 and individuals with weakened immune systems are at higher risk for severe illness.

How to prevent West Nile Virus

The best way to prevent the spread of West Nile Virus is by practicing what the department calls the three "R's" – reduce, repel, and report.

Reduce by making sure screens on doors and windows have tight-fitting screens and repairing or replacing the ones that don't. Also, eliminate or refresh places that contain water, including bird baths, pools, etc.

Repel by wearing shoes and socks, long pants, and a light-colored, long-sleeved shirt, and apply an EPA-registered insect repellent when outside.

And lastly, report locations where there's standing water for more than a week to local health departments.

Last year, 119 human cases of West Nile virus and six deaths were reported in Illinois, according to provisional data. 

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