WNV is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird. West Nile Virus is an infection that can cause serious illness, but most people infected with WNV have no signs or symptoms of illness. Most people with the virus have no clinical symptoms of illness, but some may become ill three to 15 days after the bite of an infected mosquito. Those with mild symptoms may have a fever, headache, body aches, skin rash or swollen lymph glands, but those with serious symptoms such as encephalitis and meningitis should seek medical assistance. Persons at the highest risk for serious illness are those 50 years of age or older.
The best way to prevent West Nile Virus 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 practicing the three “R’s” – reduce, repel and report.
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.
Eliminate all sources of standing water where mosquitoes can breed, including water in bird baths, ponds, flowerpots, wading pools, old tires and any other receptacles.
- REDUCEexposure - avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, especially between dusk and dawn.
- REPEL- when outdoors, wear shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, and apply insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR 3535, according to label instructions. Consult a physician before using repellents on infants.
- REPORT - “Every WNV season, the Winnebago County Health Department offers a phone line for residents to report the location of recently expired birds” said, WNV Program Manager, Todd Marshall. The report line number to call is 815- 720-4245. After calling in a report of a dead bird, please leave it where it lays for 24 hours. If we don’t pick it up for testing, you can dispose of the bird yourself. When calling the hotline to report dead birds, please leave the address, the location of the bird on the property, the town and Zip Code, and number of dead birds found”, added Todd.
Dead birds cannot spread West Nile Virus, but it is advised to avoid barehanded contact with dead birds and other animals since they carry a variety of germs. Please use a shovel, gloves or double-plastic bags to place the carcass in garbage bag or can. The Health Department has also opened a West Nile Virus information line for residents who have questions or wish to speak to a health professional. That number is 815-720-4240.
For more information on West Nile Virus, visit the following websites: