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Lots of buzzing; no positives

Published: Monday, July 1, 2013 6:20 p.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, July 1, 2013 6:25 p.m. CDT

PRINCETON — Sixteen mosquito samples have been collected this year in Bureau and Putnam counties for West Nile Virus (WNV) testing, but none of those samples have tested positive for the disease.

Kurt Kuchle, director of health protection for the Bureau/Putnam County Health Department, said the local health department has caught a ton of mosquitoes this year and has tested about four batches a week, throwing away the extras. So far, there have been three negative tests from Putnam County and 13 negative tests from Bureau County.

Describing the testing process, Kuchle said pool testing is done by placing 50 mosquitoes in a test tube with three bebes and a grinding solution. The mixture is placed in a shaker with the bebes spinning and grinding the mosquitoes into a slurry. The slurry is centrifuged down to get just the liquid part, which is transferred with a pipette into another tube, where a test strip is placed into the liquid. A dark line will develop as a control, and if a second dark line develops, then it is a positive WNV test, Kuchle said.

The local health department has also received two dead birds which tested negative for WNV from Putnam County, and no eligible “not rotten” birds from Bureau County. There is a five bird per county quota for the season, he said.

The peak time for WNV activity is usually the third week in July, which should be reflected in test results throughout the state. The WNV season has been delayed this year, but there will be a peak at some time during the next 20 to 40 days. No one knows if it will be a high peak or a low peak, meaning 200 human cases or 20 or none, he said.

“The catch is that high activity in birds and mosquitoes does not always translate directly to a lot of human cases, hopefully because people take the precautions we send out,” Kuchle said.

Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), confirmed the first WNV positive mosquito batches have been collected in southern Illinois for the 2013 season. IDPH collected a positive mosquito sample on June 24 in Perry County and on June 24 in St. Clair County. Statewide, the first positive mosquito sample was collected in May in Cook County. Since then, DuPage and McHenry, also in northern Illinois, have also confirmed positive WNV positive mosquito samples.

“As temperatures rise we are starting to see West Nile virus in mosquitoes,” Hasbrouck said. “Remember to protect yourself by wearing insect repellent and getting rid of any standing water around your home.”

As reported earlier in the Bureau County Republican, the IDPH has encouraged residents to follow the three Rs of precautions. Those three Rs are Reduce exposure by avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, especially between dusk and dawn; Repel mosquitoes by wearing shoes, socks, long pants and long-sleeved shirt and insect repellent when outdoors; and Report areas of stagnant water to local health or municipal officials.

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