Macon County Reports West Nile Virus-Positive Mosquitoes

Macon County Reports West Nile Virus-Positive Mosquitoes

Moultrie County Residents are encouraged to act now to reduce their risk of the West Nile virus.

West Nile virus-positive mosquitoes found in Macon County

WAND-TV recently reported that the Macon Mosquito Abatement District (MMAD) received confirmation of West Nile virus (WNV) positive mosquitoes in Macon County.

As of July 13, 2023, WNV has been identified in sixteen Illinois counties.

No human WNV cases have been reported to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) for 2023. However, the Moultrie County Health Department (MCHD) encourages all residents to act now to reduce the potential for mosquitoes in their area and their risk of the West Nile virus.

What is the significance of the West Nile virus?

West Nile virus (WNV) is the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease in the continental United States. Mosquitoes contract the disease from infected birds, then pass it on to other birds, animals, and humans.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2,768 confirmed cases of WNV and 122 deaths were reported in Illinois between 2002 and 2021.

Is there a risk that WNV activity will increase over the next few weeks?

Temperatures, precipitation, relative humidity, and wind influence WNV activity. In hot, dry weather, mosquitoes that carry WNV multiply rapidly in stagnant water (i.e., ditches, birdbaths, flowerpots, buckets, etc.).

Recent heavy rains have increased stagnate water and the opportunities for mosquitoes to reproduce, thus increasing the potential for WNV activity.

When WNV-infected mosquitoes increase, so does the risk of transmission to birds, pets, livestock (particularly horses), and humans.
Approximately 80% of people bitten by an infected mosquito have no disease symptoms. However, the remaining 20% could experience a wide range of symptoms.

What can we do to minimize our risk of WNV infection?

The Moultrie County Health Department (MCHD) encourages all county residents to follow the “3-Rs” to help lower the risk of WNV infection for you and your family.

#1 – “Reduce” the number of mosquitoes.
Reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home and neighborhood by eliminating standing water where mosquitoes can lay eggs.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following steps:

  • Once a week, empty and scrub any items that hold water, like buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpot saucers, and trash containers.
  • Tightly cover water storage containers (buckets, cisterns, rain barrels) so mosquitoes cannot get inside to lay eggs.
  • Use larvicides to treat ornamental ponds and large containers of water not used for drinking that cannot be covered or dumped out.
  • Cover open vents or plumbing pipes using wire mesh with holes smaller than an adult mosquito.

#2 – “Repel” mosquitoes by using personal protection.
The CDC also urges you to take personal precautions to help reduce your risk of exposure to WNV and other mosquito-borne illnesses.

  • Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active during dawn and dusk.
  • Use EPA-registered insect repellent containing DEET and apply it when outside.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants to protect vulnerable skin from mosquito bites, especially if you cannot avoid areas or times where mosquito activity is high.

#3 – “Report” unattended standing water.
Report any areas with unattended standing water (vacated swimming pools, drainage ditches, junk yards, etc.) to your municipal or township authority or local health department. Reducing areas where mosquitoes lay eggs will help reduce the risk of WNV for people, pets, and livestock.

Where can I find additional information about West Nile virus and its prevention?

More information about WNV, other mosquito-borne illnesses, and prevention is available through the IDPH, the CDC, or by contacting the MCHD at (217) 728-4114.

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