Western Courier

Mosquitos in McDonough County test positive for West Nile Virus

Steven Barnum, Assistant News Editor

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Between the dates of Aug. 6-14, an unspecified amount of mosquitoes tested positive for the West Nile Virus in McDonough County.

Since May, the McDonough County Health Department and Western Illinois University’s Miller-Hunt virology lab have been examining mosquitoes throughout the county. The groups discovered the West Nile Virus in those in Macomb and its surrounding area.

According to www.mosquitomagnet.com, prime mosquito season begins in April for the Macomb region, and they are typically active until the temperature consistently drops below 50 degrees.

Avoiding contact with mosquitoes in the thick of the summer can be difficult, which is why the McDonough County Health Department reminds the public to practice the three “R’s”: reduce, repel and report.

The first step, reduce, involves reducing your chances of being bitten by limiting your time spent outside between dusk and dawn, where mosquitoes are most active.

The second step, repel, is best done by wearing socks, shoes, pants and a long-sleeve shirt while outdoors when mosquitoes are most active. It is recommended to use an insect repellent that contains DEET, an ingredient especially helpful in fighting off mosquitoes and ticks; however, certain repellents should not be used on infants. Additionally, doors and windows should have tight-fitting screens and should be closed at night. Standing water, often seen in birdbaths and flowerpots, are breeding grounds for mosquitoes and should be emptied regularly.

The third step, report, encourages residents to report any dead birds found to your local health department. The West Nile Virus can be found often in many deceased birds, like crows, robins, and blue jays, and mosquitoes can contract the virus by feeding off of said birds. It is also encouraged to contact your local government if you notice floods or stagnant water in yards or roadside ditches, which could also act as a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

The West Nile Virus has been a problem in Illinois. According to the Illinois Department of Public Heath, the West Nile virus was first discovered in two dead crows in 2001. One year later, the virus spread to 100 of the state’s 102 counties, infecting 884 people and killing 64. The virus can cause a fever or headache in mild cases and disorientation, tremors, paralysis and possibly death in severe cases. It could take up to 14 days for symptoms to occur and those over 60 years old are at the highest risk.

For more information on the West Nile Virus or mosquitoes in general, visit The Illinois Department of Health website. You can also contact the Miller-Hunt Lab at 309-298-1294 or the Environmental Health Division at 309-837-9951.

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Mosquitos in McDonough County test positive for West Nile Virus