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WEST NILE VIRUS & VECTOR SURVEILLANCE
The goal of the Vector Program is to conduct surveillance activities to identify, control and reduce the population of specific insects that have the potential for becoming disease vectors.
In Illinois, local municipal governments rather than local health departments typically conduct chemical mosquito control methods such as adulticiding and larviciding. Health Department staff conduct surveillance activities as well as provide educational materials in response to West Nile Virus.
How West Nile Virus Spreads to Humans:
West Nile Virus is spread to humans through the bite of a mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird.
Symptoms of West Nile Virus:
Fever, Nausea, Headache, and Muscle Aches.
Symptoms may last from a few days to a few weeks. Four out of five people infected with West Nile Virus will not show any symptoms.
How to Prevent West Nile Virus:
Reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home and take personal precautions to avoidmosquito bites. Precautions include practicing the three "R's" - Reduce, Repel, and Report:
- REDUCE exposure - avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, especially between dusk and dawn.
- 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 flowerpots, wading pools, old tires and any other receptacles. Change water in bird baths weekly.
- 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 - 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.
Dead Bird Surveillance:
Investigations by health officials have found that wild birds, especially crows and blue jays, are key indicator species of West Nile Virus in an area. The Dead Bird Surveillance Program is an important tool that is used to gauge appropriate responses to address the potential for human cases of WNV.
Criteria for testing: All perching birds will be accepted for testing. Examples of such birds are: the crow, blue jay, grackle, starling, sparrow, finch, robin, cardinal, flycatcher, swallow, catbird, mockingbird, warbler, and wren. Birds should be dead within 24-48 hours and not decomposed (strong odor present, dried/deflated eyes, maggots present or bloated with decomposition gases). Birds should have no obvious cause of death. Eligible birds will be submitted to the laboratory by health department staff.
To report a dead bird, contact (618) 296-6079. Monday through Thursday only due to laboratory restrictions.
Dead birds will be accepted for testing from May to October, 2020.
Note: The carcass of the dead bird must be refrigerated until the health department can pick up the bird.
Additional information is available by contacting Environmental Health at (618) 296-6079 or theIDPH West Nile Virus information hotline at 866-369-9710 (toll-free).