The Winnebago County Health Department has confirmed two middle-aged women have contracted the West Nile Virus.
Both women live in the 61088 zip code in Winnebago County. One of the women was hospitalized, but both are said to be recovering well.
In addition to the human cases, the health department has confirmed the virus in 23 birds and 11 mosquito pools in Winnebago County this year.
Statewide there have been 138 human cases of the virus this year.
"In light of the risk of West Nile virus exposure in our community, it's important for people to protect themselves from mosquito bites. We want to remind residents by being outside means you are at risk of being bitten by an infected mosquito, especially this late in the season. Therefore, even though it is September, it's important for people to continue taking steps to protect themselves from mosquito bites and apply insect repellent when you go outdoors, wear long sleeves and pants, and limit your activities at dusk and dawn," said Winnebago County Health Department Public Health Administrator, Mike Bacon.
The best way to prevent West Nile virus or any other mosquito-borne illness is to reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home and to take personal precautions to avoid mosquito bites.
• Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, especially between dusk and dawn.
• 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.
• 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. Use your air conditioning, if you have it.
• Empty standing water from items outside your home such as gutters, flowerpots, buckets, kiddie pools, and birdbaths.
To report dead birds, residents can call the Winnebago County Health Department hotline at 815-720-4245. When calling the hotline to report dead birds, please leave the address, the location of the bird on the property, the town and Zip Code, and number of dead birds found.
After calling in a report of a dead bird, please leave it where it lays for 24 hours. If it is not picked up for testing, you can dispose of the bird yourself. 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.
Persons can call the Winnebago County Health Department West Nile virus information line with questions or wish to speak to a health professional at 815-720-4240, Monday - Friday from 8:00 am - 5:00 pm. Additional information on West Nile virus, can be obtained on the Winnebago County Health Department's website at www.wchd.org, or the Illinois Department of Public Health website at www.idph.state.il.us,. National information on West Nile virus may be found at the Center for Disease Control's website at http://www.cdc.gov/features/StopMosquitoes/.
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