OTTAWA — The LaSalle County Health Department has received confirmation that mosquitoes from Peru have tested positive for the West Nile virus.
The mosquitoes were collected on July 18, and environmental health staff members were able to conduct the confirmatory test. This is the first documented West Nile virus activity in LaSalle County this year.
“This is the time of year we expect to see West Nile virus activity increase,” Chris Pozzi, director of environmental health, said in a press release.
“It’s important people be conscientious about self-protection whenever they’re outside during the evening hours. In hot, dry weather, mosquitoes carrying 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.”
The West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of a Culex pipiens mosquito, commonly called 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. However, four out of five people infected with the virus will not show any symptoms.
In rare cases, severe illness, including meningitis or encephalitis, or even death, can occur. People older than 60 and individuals with weakened immune systems are at higher risk for severe illness.
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, which will determine whether the bird will be picked up for testing.
There are simple precautions to take to “Fight the Bite,” including the practice of the three “R’s” — reduce, repel and report.
REDUCE: Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens and try to keep them shut. Repair or replace screens with tears or other openings. 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, socks, long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR 3535. When applying insect repellent, follow the instructions included on the label and consult a physician before using it on infants.
REPORT: Report locations where water has stagnated 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 LaSalle County is available on the health department’s web site at www.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.