West Nile Virus

Surveillance

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, 2021 through October 15, 2021. Woodford County Health Department can accept ten birds per year. As of June 30th, 2021, two birds has been submitted for testing, and both birds tested negative for West Nile Virus. 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.  

Mosquito Traps

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. 

Symptoms

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.

West Nile Virus Infographic Poster Protect Your Home Against Mosquitoes