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Health Department Press Releases

Posted on: May 26, 2023

West Nile Virus Surveillance in Peoria County

The Peoria City/County Health Department will be starting vector surveillance of mosquitoes and birds for West Nile virus from May 31-October 15, 2023. Trapping and testing mosquitos for West Nile virus will be at locations throughout Peoria County.

West Nile virus (WNV) is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird. The Health Department plans to set mosquito traps throughout Peoria County to watch for areas of breeding and then test those mosquitoes for WNV.

The Health Department is collecting and accepting dead birds with an emphasis on crows and blue jays to test for evidence of the WNV infection in the area. Eligible birds are those that have been dead for less than 48 hours (have not started decomposing, no strong odor, no bloating, no maggots, eyes are not deflated or dried, etc.), have not been damaged by scavengers, and have no obvious signs of death. Be aware that dead birds can also be infected with diseases, so do not handle dead birds with your bare hands. Dead birds should be double-wrapped in plastic garbage bags prior to collection or disposal. If a dead bird is found between now and October 15 and appears to have died of natural causes, report it to the Peoria City/County Health Department at 309-679-6161.

The best way to prevent West Nile disease or any other mosquito-borne illness is to reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home and to take personal precautions to avoid mosquito bites. Precautions include practicing the three “R’s” – reduce, repel, and report.

    REDUCE exposure - Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, especially between dusk and dawn. Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens. Repair or replace screens that have tears or other openings. Try to keep doors and windows shut, especially at night. Eliminate all sources of standing water where mosquitoes can breed, including water in bird baths, ponds, flowerpots, wading pools, old tires, and any other receptacles.

    REPEL mosquitoes - When outdoors, wear shoes and socks, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt, and apply insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR 3535, according to label instructions. Consult a physician before using repellents on infants.

    REPORT mosquito breeding grounds - In communities where there are organized mosquito control programs, contact your municipal government to report areas of stagnant water in roadside ditches, flooded yards and similar locations that may produce mosquitoes. 

Common West Nile virus symptoms include fever, nausea, headache, and muscle aches. Symptoms may last from a few days to a few weeks. However, four out of five people infected with West Nile virus will not show any symptoms. In rare cases, severe illness including meningitis or encephalitis, or even death, can occur. People older than 50 are at higher risk for severe illness from West Nile virus. 

Vector surveillance will not include testing for avian flu. For more information regarding avian flu, visit the CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov/flu/avianflu/. 

Tick season has also begun, and the biggest concerns are Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Be mindful when you are outdoors to prevent tick bites by treating clothing and gear with an insect repellent and check clothing, gear, and pets after being outdoors. Check under the arms, in and around ears, inside belly buttons, back of knees, in and around the scalp, between the legs, and around the waist. 

For more information on public health issues pertaining to mosquitoes and ticks, visit the Peoria City/County Health Department's website at https://www.pcchd.org/157/Pests-Nuisances or call our Environmental Health Team at (309)679-6161.

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