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5/16/2014 3:22:00 PM Email this articlePrint this article 
LCHD warns of risks of West Nile
LAWRENCEVILLE - With summer quickly approaching, the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Lawrence County Health Department are raising awareness about the risk of contracting West Nile Virus.

The IDPH reported in the past five years there have been 507 human cases, including 30 West Nile virus-related deaths in the state.

"I have not identified those myself locally. That's probably not out of the question though," said Eric Paulin, LCHD Environmental Health Practitioner.

West Nile is a virus commonly spread by infected mosquitoes and ticks. It can also be found in dead birds, which other insects may feed off of. The virus can cause fevers, inflammation of the brain and meningitis, according to the Center for Disease Control's website.

The IDPH noted in a press release Wednesday they began accepting birds for testing on May 1. Paulin said the collections typically continue until mid-October.

While Paulin noted it's nearly impossible to avoid contact with mosquitoes, preventative steps can help minimize the risks.

"People should limit standing water on their properties," Paulin added. "Monitoring pools is a big thing around here. People should make sure those are cleaned out and operational.

"There has been a lot of rain right now, so I can see a bloom of mosquitoes coming."

Other preventative measures the IDPH suggests are wearing shoes, socks, long pants and long sleeved shirts while outside. Additionally, the best insect repellents to wear contain DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR 3535.

The CDC website reports about one-in-five people who are infected will develop symptoms, which can include a fever, headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea and a rash. While most people make a complete recovery, the fatigue and weakness can last for weeks or months. Since there isn't a vaccine available to treat West Nile, people experiencing symptoms should take over-the-counter pain relievers and consult their doctor immediately.

If someone encounters a dead bird, they are encouraged to contact the health department at 943-3302 or the IDPH at (217) 558-0500.


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