CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — With there being the presence of West Nile Virus in seven counties in Illinois, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is reminding the public to be aware of the risk the virus poses to the community during the summer months.
Although there are no human cases reported so far this year, there were 64 human cases and five deaths caused by the disease in 2021.
West Nile Virus is transmitted through the bite of a Culex Pipiens mosquito, otherwise commonly known as a house mosquito, that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird.
Common symptoms of West Nile Virus are fever, nausea, headache and muscle ache, with symptoms lasting from a few days to a few weeks. However, four out of five people infected with the virus do not show any symptoms.
People over the age of 60 and those with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of severe illness from the virus.
“West Nile virus is a serious illness, and we want to remind everyone to protect themselves from mosquito bites at this time of year when so many of us are spending more time outdoors,” IDPH Acting Director Amaal Tokars said in a news release.
The Illinois Department of Public Health encourages the public to “fight the bite” by practicing the three “R’s” — reduce, repel and report.
You can reduce the risk of the virus by ensuing that doors and windows have tight screens without any tears or openings. Likewise, all sources of standing water, such as bird baths should be refreshed on a weekly basis.
Also, it is possible to repel mosquitos by wearing socks and shoes when outdoors. IDPH recommends wearing a long-sleeved shirt, and to apply an insect repellent as well.
Finally, you can be proactive by reporting any locations where water is sitting stagnant for more than a week at a time in places such as roadside ditches and flooded yards. If reported, your local health department or city government may be able to add larvicide to the water, which will kill any mosquito larvae.