The La Salle County Health Department received confirmation mosquitoes from Peru tested positive for West Nile virus — the first documented West Nile activity in the county this year.
The mosquitoes were collected July 18 and environmental health staff were able to conduct the confirmatory test Friday on the mosquitoes at the health department.
“This is the time of year we expect to see West Nile virus activity increase," said Chris Pozzi, director of environmental health. "It is important that people be conscientious about self-protection whenever they are outside during the evening hours. In hot, dry weather, mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus breed in stagnant water and multiply rapidly. The best way to protect yourself against illness is to wear insect repellent and to get rid of any stagnant water around your home to reduce the number of mosquitoes.”
West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of a house mosquito, which has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird. Common symptoms include fever, nausea, headache and muscle aches. Symptoms may last from a few days to a few weeks.
A La Salle County resident older than 65 became ill during the first part of August and tested positive for West Nile virus, and died as a result. There was a human case previously reported in La Salle County in 2017. There also were cases reported in 2014, 2013, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003 and 2002.
Four out of five people infected with West Nile virus will not show any symptoms.
In rare cases, severe illness including meningitis or encephalitis, or death, can occur. People older than 60 and individuals with weakened immune systems are at higher risk for severe illness from West Nile virus.
Monitoring for West Nile virus includes laboratory tests for mosquito batches, dead crows, blue jays, and robins, as well as testing humans with West Nile virus-like symptoms.
People who observe a sick or dying crow, blue jay, or robin should contact the health department, at 815-433-3366.
There are some simple precautions people can take to protect against West Nile.
The Health Department asks people to take these precautions.
REDUCE: 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. Eliminate, or refresh each week, all sources of standing water where mosquitoes can breed, including water in bird baths, ponds, flowerpots, pet bowls, clogged rain gutters, wading pools, old tires, and any other containers.
REPEL: 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.
REPORT: Report locations where you see water sitting stagnant for more than a week such as roadside ditches, flooded yards, and similar locations that may produce mosquitoes. The local health department or city government may be able to add larvicide to the water, which will kill any mosquito eggs.
A complete listing of West Nile virus statistics for La Salle County is available on the Health
Department’s web site at lasallecounty.org. A statewide listing is available at the Illinois
Department of Public Health’s web site at http://www.dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/diseases-and-conditions/west-nile-virus/surveillance.