The recent rain in our area is helping to breed a new crop of mosquitoes. And the Vermilion County Health Department is asking the public to help prevent West Nile Virus. It is time again to remove empty planters, clean gutters, and remove abandoned swimming pools.
Each summer the Vermilion County Health Department asks the public to help with the collection of dead birds to be tested for West Nile Virus. ‘’Finding out if the virus is present in Vermilion County allows us to alert residents to take precautions when they are outside and make sure their homes are free of places where mosquitoes breed,’’ says Public Health Administrator Douglas Toole.
In 2018, the Illinois Department of Public Health, with the help of local health departments, reported 137 cases of the virus in the state. It represented a 52-percent increase from the 90 cases confirmed in 2017. All mosquitoes and dead birds collected in Vermilion County last year were found not to have the virus.
Starting June 1st, and ending on October 15th (2019), the Vermilion County Health Department will be accepting a limited number of dead birds for testing for West Nile Virus. The State of Illinois has prioritized the type of birds that should be collected for testing. The top priorities include:
- Crows and Blue Jays
- Finches, Sparrows and Robins
- Cardinals, Black Birds, Starlings and Wrens
Not all dead birds will be accepted for testing. The Illinois Department of Public Health recommends:
- The bird be dead no longer than 24 hours.
- The bird shows no sign it died of causes other than disease.
- The birds are one of the types listed above.
The Illinois Department of Public Health says that most people are not affected when bitten by a West-Nile infected mosquito, but some people, including those who are over the age of 50 and who may have chronic health problems – are most at risk.
The best way to prevent West Nile Virus – or any other mosquito-borne illness – is to reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home.