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Southern 7 Health Department to begin annual testing for West Nile Virus

Close-up image of a mosquito
Егор Камелев

Southern 7 Health Department says that West Nile virus is the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease in the continental United States. The virus is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito, that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird.

Beginning the week of May 22, Southern 7 Health Department will begin its annual trapping of mosquitoes throughout the lower seven counties in Illinois to test for West Nile Virus. Trapping will continue in the region through fall.

There are no vaccines to prevent or medications to treat WNV in people. You can reduce your risk of WNV by following the three “R’s” – Reduce, Repel, and Report.

• REDUCE - 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. Eliminate, or refresh each week, all sources of standing water where mosquitoes can breed, including water in bird baths, ponds, flowerpots, wading pools, old tires, and any other containers.

• REPEL - when outdoors, wear shoes and socks, long pants and a light-colored, 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. Do not use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD) on children under 3 years old. Do not apply insect repellent to a child’s hands, eyes, mouth, cuts, or irritated skin. Spray insect repellent onto your hands and then apply to a child’s face.

• REPORT – report locations where you see water sitting stagnant for more than a week such as roadside ditches, flooded yards, and similar locations that may produce mosquitoes. The local health department or city government may be able to add larvicide to the water, which will kill any mosquito eggs.

For more information, call Miranda Adams, Environmental Health Services Director for Southern 7 Health Department at 618-634-2297 x. 9114 or visit www.southern7.org

Leah Lerner is a media writer, producer, and announcer at WSIU Public Broadcasting located at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Contact WSIU Radio at 618-453-6101 or email wsiunews@wsiu.org.
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