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Grundy Health Department collecting birds for West Nile testing

Published: Monday, July 7, 2014 9:17 p.m. CDT

MORRIS – The Grundy County Health Department is reminding residents they are collecting birds for testing as part of the West Nile Virus surveillance activities. 

"A bird is suitable for testing if it has not been dead more than two days and it does not display signs of injury or decomposition." Director of Environmental Health Mike Boyle said in a news release."Many different types of birds are acceptable for testing, so it is best if you call the Environmental Health Division if you find a bird.”

In a continuing effort to detect the presence of West Nile Virus, the health department is actively collecting mosquitoes throughout the county and testing. If they are found to be positive for the virus, it will inform communities where the mosquitoes are found so that efforts can be made to avoid becoming infected with the West Nile Virus. However, the health department recommends residents follow the Illinois Department of Public Health’s (IDPH) three R’s to avoid contracting any of the illnesses transmitted by mosquitoes: Reduce, Repel and Report. 

It starts with reducing exposure by avoiding the outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, especially between dusk and dawn.  Also, make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens. Next, eliminate sources of 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. 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, according to a news release.

Finally, IDPH suggests that you report areas of stagnant water in roadside ditches, flooded yards and similar locations that may produce mosquitoes to whomever handles mosquito control activities in your area.

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 typically appear between three to 14 days after the bite. The website also states, “Persons at the highest risk for serious illness are those 50 years of age or older.”

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