West Nile surveillance starting in Winnebago County - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

West Nile surveillance starting in Winnebago County


With warmer weather and rainy days come mosquitoes, which could bring West Nile to the community.

Although it is too early to tell what amount of the virus Winnebago County will see, the Winnebago County Health Department is offering tips to protect individuals and families from West Nile.

The agency recommends people practice the three R's — reduce, repel, and report:

  • Reduce exposure: avoid the outdoors while mosquitoes are most active, which is usually between dusk and dawn
    • Make sure windows and doors are outfitted with tight screens. Screens with tears or other openings should be repaired or replaced. Try to keep doors and windows shut, especially at night.
    • Eliminate all sources of standing water, including bird baths, ponds, flowerpots, wading pools, old tires, and other receptacles. Mosquitoes use them to breed.
  • Repel: Wear shoes and socks, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt when outside. Use insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR 3535. Make sure to talk to a doctor before using repellent on infants.
  • Report: Report the location of recently expired birds by calling 815-720-4245. After reporting it, you can either dispose of the bird yourself, or leave it where it lay if it's not picked up within 24 hours of your call. When reporting dead birds, make sure to leave the address, town, Zip Code, type, and number of birds found.

West Nile cannot be spread by dead birds, but you should not touch dead birds (or other animals) with your bare hands because they can carry many different kinds of germs. Use a shovel, gloves, or doubled-up plastic bags to put the carcass in a garbage bag or can.

West Nile is transmitted through a bite from an infected mosquito, which received the virus by feeding on an infected bird. The virus can cause serious illness, but most people that are infected have no signs or symptoms. However, some may become ill three to 15 days after being bitten.

Mild symptoms include fever, headache, body aches, skin rash, or swollen lymph glands. Serious symptoms can include encephalitis and meningitis and anyone suffering from those symptoms should see a doctor immediately because death can occur. Those aged 50 or older are at the highest risk.

The peak period for West Nile is between mid-July and mid-October.

Three confirmed human cases of West Nile were reported in Winnebago County last year.

For more information, visit www.wchd.org.

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