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West Nile Virus confirmed

PRINCETON — Diseased mosquitoes infected with the West Nile Virus have been found in both Bureau and Putnam counties.

Kurt Kuchle, director of health protection for the Bureau/Putnam County Health Department, said the Bureau County sample was collected June 25 and tested July 2. The Putnam County sample was collected and tested on July 9. The health department usually tests on Tuesdays, he said.

To date, the local health department has collected 26 mosquito samples this season for testing with 21 of those tests in Bureau County and five in Putnam County, Kuchle said.

Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Director LaMar Hasbrouck also confirmed the first dead bird testing positive for West Nile Virus (WNV) in Illinois for 2013, reported by the Monroe County Health Department. To date, 17 counties in Illinois have confirmed positive bird and/or mosquito WNV tests this year, he said.

“We are now starting to see West Nile Virus in both mosquitoes and birds, which means it’s only a matter of time before we start seeing West Nile Virus in people,” Hasbrouck said. “Remember to protect yourself by wearing insect repellent and getting rid of any standing water around your home.”

Kuchle agreed, saying the positive WNV tests in Bureau and Putnam counties make it a good time to remind people of the precautions they should take to protect themselves from mosquito bites.

“People should take this seriously,” Kuchle said. “As I have said before, most transmission to humans happens late July through early August, so it’s time to heed the precautions.”

As stated by the IDPH, those precautions mean following the three Rs, which 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.

Kuchle said common symptoms of WNV include fever, nausea, headache and muscle aches. The onset of symptoms may begin three to 14 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Symptoms may last from a few days to a few weeks.

However, four out of five people infected with WNV will not show any symptoms, Kuchle said. In rare cases, severe illness including meningitis or West Nile Encephalitis, or even death can occur. People older than 50 are at higher risk for severe illness, he said.

Comment on this story at www.bcrnews.com. 

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