Illinois confirms first West Nile virus-positive mosquitos and birds of 2014

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) recently confirmed the first West Nile virus-positive batches of birds and mosquitos.

A West Nile virus-positive bird was picked up by Henry County Health Department employees on May 29 in Colona, while the Madison County Health Department collected the positive mosquito batch on May 30 in Godfrey.

Last year, 76 counties in Illinois reported positive West Nile virus mosquito batches, bird or human cases. IDPH reported 117 human cases in the 2013 season, including 11 deaths. No human West Nile virus cases have been reported this year.

"West Nile virus activity is largely dependent on the weather," IDPH Director LaMar Hasbrouck said. "Despite our cold winter, mosquitoes are becoming active and infected with West Nile virus as the temperature increase. If we see a hot, dry summer, we could see a lot of West Nile virus activity. We want to remind people not to be complacent. Take precautions to protect yourself by wearing insect repellent and taking other precautions."

West Nile virus is transmitted through mosquitos that have bitten an infected bird.

Symptoms of West Nile virus include fever, nausea, headaches and muscle aches. Four out of five people infected with the disease never show any symptoms, although in rare cases West Nile virus can result in severe illness, including meningitis or encephalitis.