The Division of Environmental Health works to educate the public about West Nile Virus and ways to reduce your risk of exposure. Many simple steps can be taken around the home to reduce your chances of contracting this potentially dangerous disease.
70% of all West Nile Virus (WNV) cases are transmitted by the Culex pipiens mosquito. Also known as the house mosquito, this species breeds in still water which is rich in organic content. The mosquito larvae must live in still water for five or more days to complete their growth cycle. Because of this mosquito's limited flight range, most house mosquitos are grown locally. Removing sources of standing water around your home can reduce the number of mosquitos. For example, hundreds of mosquitos can come from a single discarded tire.
Here are some steps you can take:
- Get rid of old tires, cans, buckets, drums, bottles or any water holding containers
- Fill in or drain low places in the yard
- Keep drains, ditches and culverts free of weeds and trash so water will drain properly
- Keep roof gutters free of leaves and other debris
- Cover trash containers to keep out rainwater
- Repair leaky pipes and outside faucets
- Empty plastic wading pools at least once each week and store indoors when not in use
- Unused swimming pools should be drained and kept dry during the mosquito season
- Fill in tree rot holes and hollow stumps that hold water
- Change the water in bird baths and plant pots or drip trays at least once each week
- Store boats covered or upside down, or remove rainwater weekly
- Keep grass cut short and shrubbery well trimmed around the house so adult mosquitos will not hide there
- Make sure ornamental ponds have fish that eat mosquito larvae
- Repair window screens
- When outdoors in the evening or when mosquitos are biting, use personal protection measures to prevent mosquito bites (proper use of DEET insect repellent and appropriate clothing)
The Division of Environmental Health also conducts surveillance for West Nile Virus by testing dead birds for the disease. Help community surveillance by reporting dead birds to the Fayette County Health Department. Crows, blue jays and other "Perching Birds" are accepted. Perching birds include grackles, starlings, robins, cardinals, catbirds, mockingbirds, and many species of sparrows, finches, flycatchers, swallows, warblers and wrens. No waterfowl, gulls, larger birds such as vultures, or endangered birds will be accepted. Submitted birds should be believed dead less than 48 hours and should be put on chill packs or refrigerated ASAP. Birds should only be submitted if they have not been damaged by scavenging animals and are not decomposed.
For additional information about West Nile Virus, visit the Illinois Department of Public Health's West Nile Virus website.