Blue jay tests positive for West Nile virus

Grundy Health Department encourages continued precautions

The Illinois Department of Public Health recently notified the Grundy County Health Department a blue jay submitted for testing is positive for West Nile virus.

The bird was collected July 26.

Director of Environmental Health Mike Boyle stressed this positive test does not create new concerns.

“We have already had six mosquito pools collected from various parts of the county test positive this year,”  Boyle said.

Last year, the Grundy County Health Department had 12 different mosquito pools test positive for West Nile virus through the course of the summer.

No positive bird results were obtained. 

According to Boyle, this is the first positive test result on a bird submitted by the health department in the past several years.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health’s website, “mild cases of West Nile infections may cause a slight fever or headache.

“More severe infections are marked by a rapid onset of a high fever with head and body aches, disorientation, tremors, convulsions and, in the most severe cases, paralysis or death.”

These symptoms will typically appear between three and 14 days after the bite of an infected mosquito.

People at the highest risk for serious illness are those 50 years of age or older.

“Once again, the Grundy County Health Department wants to encourage everyone to follow the Illinois Department of Public Health’s three R’s to avoid contracting any of the illnesses that are transmitted by mosquitoes,” Boyle said.

The three R’s are Reduce, Repel and Report:

• Reduce exposure by avoiding the outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, especially between dusk and dawn.

Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens that are free of holes or tears in them.

Finally, eliminate standing water where mosquitoes can breed, including flowerpots, wading pools, old tires and any other receptacles, and change water in bird baths weekly.

• Repel the mosquitoes when outdoors by wearing shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt.

The IDPH also recommends you apply insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR 3535, according to label instructions.

They encourage you to consult a physician before using repellents on infants.

• Report areas of stagnant water in roadside ditches, flooded yards and similar locations that may produce mosquitoes to whoever handles mosquito control activities in your area.

Despite the cooler night temperatures recently, residents should not develop a false sense of security that the risk of contracting West Nile virus is no longer a threat.

The risk remains until the first hard freeze.

Additionally, warmer temperature are anticipated in the coming days, weeks and months.   

For further information regarding West Nile virus, contact the Grundy County Health Department at 815-941-3115.

For more information from the IDPH, visit www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/wnv.htm.