Southern Illinois reports first positive West Nile virus mosquitoes in 2013

The Illinois Department of Health confirmed the first batches last week of West Nile virus positive mosquitoes were reported in southern Illinois.

The IDPH collected the sample on June 24 from Tamaroa in Perry County. The East Side Health District collected a positive sample on the same day from East St. Louis in St. Clair County. The first positive sample was collected in May in Cook County.

Five Illinois counties are reporting West Nile virus, including Cook, St. Clair, Perry, DuPage and McHenry counties.

"As temperatures rise we are starting to see West Nile virus in mosquitoes," LaMar Hasbrouck, the director of the IDPH, said. "Remember to protect yourself by wearing insect repellent and getting rid of any standing water around your home."

In 2012, 55 counties in the state reported a West Nile virus positive mosquito batch, bird and/or human case. The IDPH reported 290 residents with West Nile and 12 deaths last year, the second highest number of human cases in in state history.

West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird. Common symptoms of the virus include muscle aches, headache, nausea and fever. In rare instances, severe illness such as encephalitis, meningitis or even death can occur.

The IDPH has yet to report a human case of West Nile virus this year.