CHICAGO – The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has confirmed the first mosquitoes to test positive for West Nile virus in Illinois in 2022. The DuPage County Health Department collected a positive mosquito batch on May 24, from Roselle in DuPage. No human cases of West Nile virus have been reported so far this year.
“This is the time of year when West Nile virus makes its annual appearance,” said IDPH Acting Director Amaal Tokars. “We remind everyone -- and especially older people and those with weakened immune systems -- to take precautions to protect themselves from mosquitoes and the viruses they carry by wearing insect repellent and eliminating standing water around their home where mosquitos breed.”
Monitoring for West Nile virus in Illinois includes laboratory tests for mosquito batches, dead crows, blue jays, robins, and other perching birds, as well as testing sick horses and humans with West Nile virus-like symptoms. People who see a sick or dying crow, blue jay, robin, or other perching bird should contact their local health department or check their website for details to determine if the bird will be picked up for testing.
West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of a Culex pipiens mosquito, commonly called a house mosquito, that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird. Common symptoms include fever, nausea, headache, and muscle aches. Symptoms may last from a few days to a few weeks. However, four out of five people infected with West Nile virus will not show any symptoms. In rare cases, severe illness including meningitis, encephalitis, or even death, can occur. People older than 60 and individuals with weakened immune systems are at higher risk for severe illness from West Nile virus.
The first mosquitoes to test positive for West Nile virus in Illinois in 2021 were collected on June 9 in Skokie. Last year, 48 counties in Illinois reported a West Nile virus positive mosquito batch, bird, horse, and /or human case. IDPH reported 64 human cases (although human cases are underreported), including five deaths.
IDPH encourages the public to Fight the Bite by practicing the three “R’s” – reduce, repel, and report: