Freeport, Illinois — The Stephenson County Health Department released a news release informing residents of the County that the West Nile Virus has been confirmed in birds and mosquitoes in Stephenson County.
The West Nile Virus is a mosquito-borne disease that can cause encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain. Culex mosquitoes become infected with the virus by feeding on infected birds; those mosquitoes then seek blood meals and subsequently infect humans and animals.
Six dead birds which tested positive for the virus were found in Freeport, one in Orangeville and one in Lena for a total of eight in the county overall. According to the release, last month a mosquito batch also tested positive in German Valley.
This isn’t the first news of West Nile in Stephenson County however.
The virus was first detected in the United States in New York in the fall of 1999 and in Illinois in 2001. Prior to that, the virus had only been found in Africa,Eastern Europe, and West Asia.
— In 2006, 215 Illinois residents were infected with West Nile Virus, and ten died.
— Stephenson County had four positive birds, ten positive mosquito pools, and one human case in 2006.
— On June 12, 2012 a dead bird collected in south Freeport was found to have the virus.
— In 2013 the Health Department reported a dead crow was collected in Freeport on July 22 and confirmed positive for the virus.
— In 2014 the Health Department reported that a dead crow had the virus.
— On July 7th, 2015 a dead bird which tested positive for West Nile was found inside Lena city limits.
There may be others, however we weren’t able to obtain further data in time for this report.
Craig Beintema, Public Health Administrator for the Stephenson County Health Department said, “In general, you’d expect to see West Nile Virus toward the end of the summer and into early fall“.
Residents are advised to avoid contact with infected mosquitoes, the health department advises residents to avoid being outside during peak mosquito season from dusk to dawn. Other preventative measures include wearing long sleeves to keep covered, making sure windows and doors have tight-fitted screens, and eliminating standing water.