West Nile virus found in Western Springs

Checking for mosquito larva is one way health officials try control West Nile virus. | File photo
Checking for mosquito larva is one way health officials try control West Nile virus. | File photo

Western Springs officials have announced a dead bird found in the village has tested positive for West Nile virus.

The bird was collected July 21, and the announcement was made July 30. The finding marks the first 2014 West Nile virus case in Cook County. Western Springs was notified of the infected bird by the Cook County Department of Public Health and the Des Plaines Valley Mosquito Abatement District.

“Residents need to remember that West Nile virus is real and to be vigilant in protecting against it because it’s found every year in our communities,” said Dr. Terry Mason, chief operating officer for the Cook County Department of Health. Unless basic prevention steps are taken to limit the risk, breeding grounds can develop around homes and put people at risk for the infection.”

West Nile virus is an infection carried by the Culex mosquito. The Culex breeds in small pools of stagnant water. They rest during the day in areas of vegetation but they are most active and likely to bite between the hours of dusk and dawn. The Cook County Department of Public Health suggests the following as the most effective ways to prevent West Nile virus:

• Remove standing water around your home. Get rid of standing water in pet bowls, flowerpots, old tires, birdbaths, baby pools and toys where mosquitoes can breed. Make sure rain gutters drain properly.

• Repel mosquitoes when outdoors by applying insect repellent with DEET and follow label directions.

• Repair or replace screens on doors and windows.

Most people infected with West Nile virus have no symptoms of illness and never become ill. However, illness can occur 3-15 days after an infected mosquito bite and cause symptoms of fever, headache and body aches.

People older than age 50 are at a higher risk for serious complications from encephalitis or meningitis. For that reason, people who experience high fever, confusion, muscle weakness, severe headaches, or a stiff neck should see a doctor immediately.

Between May and October each year, the Cook County Department of Public Health conducts surveillance to identify mosquitoes, birds and humans that have tested positive for the disease.

To report a dead bird, go to www.cookcountypublichealth.org or call 708-633-8025.

Health Department officials will continue to report West Nile virus activity throughout the season. For the most recent information, go to www.cookcountypublichealth.org, Facebook.com/ccdph, and Twitter: @cookcohealth.

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