First Bird Sample to Test Positive for West Nile Virus
in McLean County
Bloomington, IL— McLean County Health Department’s (MCHD) Environmental Health Division is reporting the first dead bird sample collected in McLean County to test positive for West Nile virus (WNV) this year. The positive test was confirmed on Friday, July 28 in the 61761 zip code area in Normal. MCHD staff immediately began distributing informational doorknob hangers about WNV and preventative measures in the neighborhood where the sample was collected.
WNV most commonly occurs mid-summer to early fall. It is a mosquito-borne disease that can cause encephalitis, which is an inflammation of the brain. “Birds are common carriers of the virus. Mosquitoes bite birds, become infected, then pass that infection when they bite people or other animals,” said Tom Anderson, Director of MCHD Environmental Health Division.
Anyone can get WNV, and 4 out of 5 people will experience no symptoms according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, about 1 in 5 infected people will experience symptoms. People aged 50 and older are at greater risk of severe illness.
Symptoms to watch for include fever, headache, body and joint aches, fatigue, rash, vomiting and diarrhea. Severe cases cause convulsions, coma, vision loss, paralysis and (in rare cases) even death. If you develop symptoms like these, which will often begin about 3-7 days after a mosquito bite, seek medical attention immediately.
Last year in the U.S. the CDC reported 1,035 human cases of WNV and 79 confirmed deaths. Eight deaths were in Illinois, although none were in McLean County.
“Regular mosquito and bird surveillance allows public health officials to track the presence of West Nile Virus in McLean County. When disease-carrying mosquitoes become more active, the risk of human exposure and infection also increases,” Anderson added. “Since there is no human vaccine for West Nile virus, avoiding mosquito bites is your best defense.”
To minimize these risks of mosquito-borne illnesses, MCHD recommends following the 3 Rs:
- Remove areas of standing water around your yard or business where mosquitoes can breed, such as old tires or unused planting pots. This is recommended weekly. It takes only 7-10 days for the Culex mosquito egg to develop into a biting adult.
- Repel mosquitoes using insect repellent that includes DEET, lemon eucalyptus oil, or picaridin according to label instructions (consult a physician before using repellents on young children). You can also repel by wearing clothing that covers your skin, especially at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
- Report dead birds that show no sign of injury to the MCHD Environmental Health section at (309) 888-5482. If it appears the bird died within the past 24 hours (no decay or insect infestation) MCHD may collect it and have it tested for WNV.
For more information on mosquito control strategies, visit: https://www.mcleancountyil.gov/1739/Mosquito-Control-Strategies
For more information on WNV, including symptoms, visit: https://www.cdc.gov/westnile/symptoms/index.html
Please feel free to share this video link on your social media accounts: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ORYf4K35e9o
Learn how to safely dispose of dead birds here: https://dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/diseases-and-conditions/influenza/bird-flu/dead-bird-disposal-5-or-more.html#:~:text=Before%20disposing%20of%20dead%20wild,at%201%2D866%2D487%2D