West Nile Virus
The Woodford County Health Department does surveillance to monitor birds and insects that can potentially carry the virus. Mosquitoes can either carry the virus or get it by feeding on infected birds. West Nile Virus is the most common mosquito-borne disease. The collection and testing of dead birds is an important part of West Nile Virus monitoring. Residents can assist with West Nile surveillance by reporting dead birds to the health department.
When Can Birds Be Tested?
Dead birds will be accepted for testing from May 1 through October 15. Woodford County Health Department can accept ten birds per year. Please DO NOT call the after hours phone number. A dead bird is not a public health emergency.
How Can I Safely Collect a Bird for Testing?
Birds will be accepted for testing if the body is in good condition and there is no signs of decay (flies, smell, bloating, sunken eyes, etc.) Birds should not be dead more than 48 hours prior to collection. Birds will only be accepted if it has no signs of obvious injury such as broken neck, wounds, missing parts, and have not been damaged by scavengers. Birds found crushed on roadways cannot be accepted. Birds should be collected wearing gloves, and placed in a plastic bag. If WCHD is closed, the dead bird can be stored in a refrigerator. Storing a dead bird in a freezer will make it unacceptable for testing.
What Types of Birds Can Be Tested?
Acceptable birds for collection are perching birds-crows, blue jays, grackles, starlings, robins, cardinals, sparrows, finches, hawks and owls. Waterfowl, gulls, vultures, turkeys, chickens, or eagles are not accepted.
The Health Department deploys mosquito traps throughout the community to collect mosquitoes for West Nile Virus testing. Approximately 30 mosquito traps are placed throughout the county per season. Pictured below is an example of a mosquito trap. If you see one in the community, please do not tamper with it. A trap set in your community does NOT mean that there is West Nile Virus in that area.
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. Usually symptoms occur from three to 14 days after the bite of an infected mosquito. Persons at the highest risk for serious illness are those 60 years of age or older.
The best way to prevent West Nile encephalitis and other mosquito-borne illnesses is to reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home and neighborhood and to take personal precautions to avoid mosquito bites.
Courtesy of Illinois Department of Public Health
Practice the 3 R’s, Reduce, Repel, Report. Ever wonder how we gather mosquitos to test for the virus? Our EH staff place mosquito traps in various locations in the county to gather mosquitos, then sort and test for West Nile Virus.
For more information, please click here.
- What is West Nile encephalitis?
- How do people get West Nile encephalitis?
- What is the transmission cycle of West Nile Virus in the environment?
- Is it only humans who become ill when infected with West Nile Virus?
- What are the symptoms of West Nile encephalitis?
- What percentage of West Nile Virus cases are fatal?
- What is the risk of contracting West Nile encephalitis?
- Is there a treatment for West Nile encephalitis?
- Is there a vaccine for West Nile encephalitis?
- If bitten by a mosquito should I be tested?
- Why is the state testing birds, and what should I do if I find a dead bird?
- How can West Nile Virus infection be prevented?