West Nile Virus has reached Central Illinois. Here’s what you need to know

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TAZEWELL COUNTY, Ill. (WMBD) — West Nile virus was detected for the first time in Tazewell County this year on Monday, Sept. 20. Health officials also reported that mosquitoes tested positive for the virus on Tuesday, Sept. 21.

The first case, found in a bird, passes from bird to mosquito to human. The virus can be difficult to identify in humans, though, as only one in five people get symptoms.

The symptoms can include:

  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Rash

Approximately one in 150 people who are infected can develop a severe illness affecting the central nervous system, according to the CDC. Among the illnesses possible are encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), or meningitis (inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord).

Sara Sparkman, Communication Manager at the Tazewell County Health Department, said, “What we encourage people to do is to avoid being out at dawn and dusk, those are when the mosquitoes are most active. We do encourage people to use insect repellant if they are going out and if they can wear long sleeves.”

Health officials said it is important to follow the three ‘R’s — Reduce, report, and repel.

  • Reduce: Get rid of any standing water in the area, as that is where mosquitoes breed.
  • Report: Report dead animals to your local health department. This allows health officials to test for the virus and determine if the West Nile virus is in the area.
  • Repel: Repel bugs and mosquitoes by wearing insect repellant and/or by wearing long sleeves, and pants that cover your ankles.

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