Birds, bugs test positive for West Nile

By on July 31, 2010

Kane County—The Kane County Health Department learned that two birds sent in for testing last week tested positive for the West Nile Virus. One of the birds was found in the Pingree Grove, Ill., area, the other was found in the Aurora area. In addition, a pool of mosquitoes gathered in the Aurora area tested positive for the disease.

Hot dry weather and stagnant water are the two main ingredients prized by the Culex mosquito, the species most commonly associated with the disease.

Thus far in 2010, there have been no human cases detected in Kane County, nor anywhere else in Illinois. However, West Nile-infected birds and/or mosquitoes have been detected in 11 other Illinois counties.

“We saw a lot of rain in May and June that may have left pools of standing water,” Health Department Executive Director Paul Kuehnert said. “Along with the sweltering temperatures we’ve been seeing, it creates the perfect soup for the mosquito to lay her eggs. All of our residents should take a look around their yards to identify these potential breeding grounds and eliminate sources of standing water.”

Last year was an unusually mild summer with cool temperatures, and there were no human cases of West Nile Virus reported in Kane County. There were three cases of the virus reported in 2008. In 2007, there were 13, four in 2006, 17 in 2005, two in 2004, none in 2003 and nine in 2002.

The best way to prevent West Nile disease or any other mosquito-borne illness is to reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home and to take personal precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Precautions include:
• Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, especially between dusk and dawn. Use prevention methods whenever mosquitoes are present.
• When outdoors, wear shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, and apply insect repellent that includes DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus according to label instructions. Consult a physician before using repellents on infants.
• 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, especially at night.
• Change water in birdbaths weekly. Properly maintain wading pools and stock ornamental ponds with fish. Cover rain barrels with 16-mesh wire screen. In communities where there are organized mosquito control programs, contact your municipal government to report areas of stagnant water in roadside ditches, flooded yards and similar locations that may produce mosquitoes.

Additional information about West Nile virus can be found on the Kane County Health Department’s website at www.kanehealth.com or the Illinois Department of Public Health’s website at www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/ wnv.htm. People also can call the IDPH West Nile Virus Hotline at (866) 369-9710 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.