West Nile Virus found in Will County

The Environmental Health Division of the Will County Health Department is reporting that four recently tested mosquito samples have tested positive for the West Nile Virus.

West Nile Virus can be transferred to humans, by the bite of a Culex mosquito, after the mosquito has bitten an infected bird. These recent positive tests came from three separate Health Department mosquito collection sites: Joliet, New Lenox, and Manhattan.

Collected mosquito samples are brought back to the Health Department lab, frozen overnight, and then tested. Environmental Health Division West Nile Program Manager Kyle Moy says the traps work by “baiting female mosquitoes as they prepare to lay her eggs above stagnant water. The mosquitoes are then sucked up into a net placed just above the water.”

The Will County Health Department has 12 of these mosquito collection sites, and thus far 63 samples have been tested this year. The four positive samples were discovered from samples collected in late June and July.

As always, the Health Department recommends that you eliminate stagnant water around your home; especially in places such as gutters, flower pots, rain barrels, old tires, and child wading pools. Also, swimming pools should be covered when not in use.

Moy also reminds Will County residents to “use insect repellent with DEET when outdoors, and to use it according to label instructions. It is also recommended that you wear long pants, long sleeves, and socks while outdoors; and avoid outdoor activities during the peak mosquito hours between dusk and dawn.”

Health Department Environmental Health Director Tom Casey says when you spot a dead bird, it is very important that it is turned over to the Health Department so it can be shipped to Springfield for West Nile Virus testing. “They can call our hotline at 815-740-7631, and we will come and pick up the bird ourselves,” Casey explained. “Or, they are welcome to bring the bird to us. But it must be handled with gloves on. And the best way to transport it is to pick the bird up with a shovel, double-bag it, and then bring it to us in a cooler on ice.”

Symptoms of West Nile Virus can include a fever, headaches, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or a rash.

For more information on the prevention of West Nile Virus you can go to cdc.gov/westnile. Casey also mentioned that seven electric billboards around Will County will be carrying important West Nile information throughout the summer.


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