The Winnebago County Health Department has been monitoring the West Nile Virus (WNV) activity in the community.  In addition to the six mosquito pools that have been reported positive for WNV over the summer, one person and two birds have tested positive for WNV. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that Illinois had 14 cases of WNV as of September 5, 2017. Just over 500 WNV cases have been reported this year in the United States.

West Nile Virus is most commonly spread to people by mosquito bites. There are no vaccines to prevent WNV or medications to treat it. Fortunately, most people do not have symptoms. The CDC says, 1 in 5 people who are infected with WNV develop a fever and other symptoms. About 1 out of 150 infected people develop a serious, sometimes fatal, illness. Symptoms can include fever, weakness, nausea, vomiting, headache, body aches, skin rash, achy muscles, and swollen lymph glands. In severe cases, people may be confused, disorientated and have memory loss. 

 “Recent floods have increased the number of mosquitos in our community. However, WNV is not transmitted by this type of mosquito,” said Todd Marshall, Director of Environment Health.  “WNV is transmitted by the Culex pipiens mosquito, commonly called a house mosquito, which has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird.  Despite our community’s best efforts at trying to prevent WNV transmission, it is common for a county of our size to have one or more identified cases.” Transmission of WNV is expected to decrease in the area after a few hard frosts.

Reduce the risk of WNV by preventing mosquito bites. Use insect repellant and wear protective clothing. Remove standing water in yards and neighborhoods to reduce the mosquito population. 

            For more information, call the Winnebago County Health Department’s West Nile information line at 815-720-4245 or visit wchd.org.