West Nile Virus Found in Mosquitos and Birds in 13 Illinois Counties; IDPH Warns Public to “Fight the Bite”

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Health

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is reminding the public that along with the start of summer, mosquito season is underway in Illinois and with that comes the risk of West Nile virus (WNV), which has been reported in 13 counties around the state so far. The reminder comes as public health officials around the country are highlighting the importance of taking action to “Fight the Bite” during National Mosquito Control Awareness Week, June 16-22. While no human cases of West Nile virus have been reported in Illinois this year, there were 119 human cases reported in 2023, up from 34 human cases in 2022. There were six human deaths attributed to West Nile virus in 2023, compared to seven in 2022. IDPH urges the public to Fight the Bite by practicing the three “R’s” – reduce, repel, and report:

REDUCE – 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. Eliminate, or refresh each week, all sources of standing water where mosquitoes can breed, including water in bird baths, ponds, flowerpots, wading pools, old tires, and any other containers.

REPEL – when outdoors, wear shoes and socks, long pants and a light-colored, long-sleeved shirt, and apply an EPA-registered insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, IR 3535, para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone according to label instructions. Consult a physician before using repellents on infants.

REPORT – report locations where you see water sitting stagnant for more than a week such as roadside ditches, flooded yards, and similar locations that may produce mosquitoes. The local health department or city government may be able to add larvicide to the water, which will kill any mosquito larvae.

Additional information about West Nile virus can be found on the IDPH website.

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