“The Winnebago County Health Department opened a phone line for the residents to report the location and number of dead birds” said Larry Swacina, Environmental Health Director. The report line number to call is (815) 720-4245, which was closed October 1, 2009. After reporting a dead bird, it was advised to the caller to dispose of the bird themselves, if it was not picked up for testing within 24 hours of the call,” added Larry. Remember that 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” added Larry. 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.
West Nile Virus and St. Louis encephalitis are both transmitted to humans from the bite of a mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird. In the summer of 2008, Winnebago County Health Department received 160 calls from the general public with questions on West Nile Virus and dead bird reports. Those calls resulted in 9 birds being sent to the state lab with 5 being confirmed as positive with infection by West Nile Virus.
The best protection against mosquito-borne encephalitis is to limit activities at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes that could carry the virus are most active. Protective clothing will ideally include lightweight, loose fitting, long-sleeved shirts, pants and socks. It’s best to always apply a repellant containing DEET (25% for adults, 10% for children, and not recommended for infants) when going outdoors. Last year, CDC has added two new products containing picaridin and lemon of eucalyptus. Both ingredients have also proven effective as mosquito repellents.
Personal/Home Precautions to Prevent Mosquito Borne Encephalitis:
Alert health authorities to potential mosquito breeding sites in your area.
Avoid outdoor activities in the early morning and at dusk. Whenever outdoors between dusk and dawn, wear
shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Loose-fitting, light-colored clothing is best.
Apply insect repellent to exposed skin. An effective repellent will contain 25 to 35 percent of the active
ingredient DEET or picaridin or lemon of eucalyptus. Spray the repellent not only on exposed skin but also on
clothing. Consult a physician before using repellents on very young children.
Drain standing water in your yard at least once a week. Pour water from mosquito breeding sites, such as flower
pots, pet bowls, clogged rain gutters, swimming pool covers, boats, discarded tires, buckets, barrels, cans, or
similar items in which mosquitoes can lay eggs. For permanent standing pools of water, mosquito larvicide can
be used. The larvicide can be purchased from many retail stores selling garden supplies. Please follow the
manufacturer’s recommendations for use.
Check screens on porches and patios for tears and other openings.
Most people infected with West Nile Virus have no signs or symptoms of illness. Some individuals may become ill, usually three to fifteen days after having been bitten by an infected mosquito. The virus may occasionally cause serious complications. In some individuals, particularly the elderly, the virus can cause muscle weakness, inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), stiff neck, stupor, disorientation, tremors, convulsions, paralysis, coma or death. It should be noted that the odds of being bitten by an infected mosquito and developing serious or life-threatening symptoms are minimal. Nevertheless, taking all recommended precautions (below) is encouraged, due to the potential seriousness of becoming infected by West Nile Virus, St. Louis, or La Crosse encephalitis.
For more information on West Nile Virus, visit the following websites:
Illinois Department of Public Health at www.idph.state.il.us
Center for Disease Control at www.cdc.gov.ncidod/dvbid/westnile/index.htm
Winnebago County Health Department at www.wchd.org