Another Case of West Nile Virus Found

By: Nichole Vrsansky
By: Nichole Vrsansky

A dead crow infected with the West Nile virus has been found in Winnebago County and a crow infected with the mosquito borne illness was found in Stephenson County. These cases are popping up two months earlier than last year.

The Winnebago County Health Department now has reports of about 37 dead crows randomly scattered throughout our community.

"I think at this point, people should assume West Nile is active in the county and start taking precautions," said the Director of Environmental Health at the Health Department, Larry Swacina.

Swacina said the county has been testing earlier than normal. But our weather: warm conditions mixed with rain, makes the perfect environment for mosquitoes to breed. He expects we'll see a lot more mosquitoes this year.

"Just because people see and increase in mosquitoes, doesn't necessarily equate to an increase in the West Nile virus. It seems that how many West Nile cases we have relates back to our average temperatures and it's too early to tell if our average temperature will be above average, says Swacina.

Culex mosquitoes carry the West Nile virus. They like small bits of water; like in birdbaths, bases of pots and clogged gutters. The best way to protect our selves is to get rid of any stagnant water, wear bug spray with deet and if possible, avoid being outside at dawn or dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.

The health department is looking for our help to track down infected birds. If you see a dead crow or blue jay, call the health department at 720-4245. If you would like more information on the West Nile virus you can call 720-4240. Extended Web Coverage

West Nile virus Facts

  • The West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne virus that can cause encephalitis (an inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord) in humans and other animals.

  • The virus is named after the West Nile region of Uganda where it was first isolated in1937.

  • The virus appeared for the first time in the United States during a 1999 outbreak in New York that killed seven people.

How is the West Nile virus Spread?

  • The virus is spread to humans, birds and other animals through the bite of an infected mosquito.

  • A mosquito becomes infected by biting a bird that is carrying the virus.

  • West Nile virus is not spread from person to person, and no evidence indicates the virus can be spread directly from birds to humans.

  • Only a small population of mosquitoes are likely to be infected and most people bitten by an infected mosquito do not become sick.

  • 1 in 300 people bitten by an infected mosquito get sick.

  • 1 in 100-150 who get sick become seriously ill.

  • 3 to 15 percent of those seriously ill die.

Symptoms of the Virus

  • The symptoms generally appear about 3 to 6 days after exposure. People over the age of 50 are at a greater risk of severe illness.

  • Milder symptoms include: Slight fever, headache, body aches, swollen glands and/or sometimes a skin rash.

  • Severe symptoms include: High fever, intense headache, stiff neck, and/or confusion.

Protecting Yourself

  • Control mosquitoes from breeding around your home. Remove standing water from any item or area that can hold water. Standing water is a perfect breeding place for mosquitoes.

  • Wear long and light colored clothing.

  • Use insect repellent products with no ore than 20-30 percent DEET for adults and less than 10 percent for children.

  • Spray repellent on your hands and then apply to your face; spray on clothing, as well. Be sure repellent is safe for human skin and clothing.

  • Wash off repellent daily and reapply as needed.

  • Stay inside at dawn and dusk because that is when mosquitoes are most active.

Source: contributed to this report

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