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First seasonal West Nile virus found in McLean County

West Nile Virus is a mosquito born infection that can cause serious neurological symptoms or death.
McLean County Health Department
West Nile Virus is a mosquito-born infection that can cause serious neurological symptoms or death.

McLean County has its first positive test for West Nile virus this year. The county health department said a dead bird tested positive for the virus in the 61705 area code west of Bloomington.

The virus can cause brain inflammation and other serious symptoms. One man in the Chicago area has died so far this year from West Nile. People over the age of 50 are at risk for more serious cases of the disease.

“Regular mosquito and bird surveillance allows public health officials to track the presence of West Nile Virus in McLean County. When disease-carrying mosquitoes become more active, the risk of human exposure and infection also increases,” said Tom Anderson, director of MCHD Environmental Health Division. “To avoid human cases of the virus, we recommend everyone in McLean County take measures to fight the bite.”

The health department said measures to avoid mosquito bites include reducing standing water near homes, using insect repellant, and wearing clothing that covers skin, especially at dusk and dawn.

Mosquitoes need stagnant water to breed. It can take less than a week for eggs to hatch to larvae and become biting adults, according to the health department.

The health department asked McLean County residents who find dead birds around their property to contact the department so the birds can be tested for the virus. A cluster of 5 or more dead birds could be a sign of the presence of Avian Flu, said the health department.

West Nile season in Illinois lasts until the weather gets cold enough to kill off the mosquitos that carry the virus.

WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.
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