Area health department finds West Nile in local mosquitoes

A health department in the Local 6 region says testing has found the West Nile virus in local mosquitoes.

The Jackson County Health Department says West Nile was found in mosquitoes that were collected on July 12 near Murphysboro, Illinois. 

The health department says four out of five people bitten by an infected mosquito won’t experience any illness. But, those who do become ill typically experience fever, nausea, headache and body aches within three to 14 days of the bit. The health department says it’s possible for West Nile to lead to serious illness — such as encephalitis, which is inflammation of the brain, or meningitis, which is is inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord — with lingering complications and/or death. 

No human cases of West Nile have been reported this year in Illinois, but the health department says it wants people who live in the area to take steps to protect themselves from mosquito bites. 

The health department gave the following recommendations on how to protect yourself: 

REDUCE exposure — Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, especially between dusk and dawn. Keep doors and windows closed. Eliminate sources of standing water where mosquitoes can breed, including wading pools, old tires, and other receptacles. Change bird bath water weekly.

REPEL — When outdoors, wear shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Apply EPA-registered insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon, eucalyptus, or IR3535 according to label instructions.

REPORT — In communities where there are organized mosquito control programs, contact your municipal government to report areas of stagnant water in roadside ditches and similar locations that may produce mosquitoes. Hagston especially encourages Jackson County residents to call the health department to report sick or deceased crows, blue jays, robins or other perching birds. Officials will determine if the bird should be submitted to a lab for West Nile virus testing.

You can contact the Jackson County Health Department by calling 618-684-3143.

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