The McDonough County Health Department said West Nile virus season has arrived. The agency said there is no need for alarm but it wants people to be aware of the presence of mosquitoes carrying the virus.
West Nile virus is carried by culex mosquitoes.
“Those are the ones that need stagnant, non-moving water and really warm temperatures. And that’s why we usually see our first bird-to-mosquito batch in August because we hit the hottest part of the summer,” said Chris Adams, Environmental Health Director for the McDonough County Health Department.
The department and the Miller-Hunt Virology Lab at Western Illinois University confirmed the virus in a batch of mosquitoes collected in the Macomb area in late July.
The agency said most people with the virus show no symptoms but some might become ill 3-15 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Those most susceptible are young children and adults age 50 and older.
“The symptoms can be anything from flu-like symptoms to a stiff neck and muscle aches. There might be a sensitivity to light,” said Adams.
“If you’re experiencing any of those symptoms you should see your primary care provider, especially if you’ve been out and getting bit up by mosquitoes.”
The health department is urging people to practice the three R’s:
Reduce exposure to mosquitoes. The insects are most active between dusk and dawn so take precautions if you will be outside during that time. And eliminate sources of standing water, which is where mosquitoes breed.
Repel mosquitoes. Wear shoes and socks, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt while outdoors, especially at night. Use insect repellents that contain DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR 3535.
Report dead birds. The health department said the virus is primarily a disease of birds, which is why it’s important to report dead birds to local health departments through mid-October.