PEORIA COUNTY, Ill. (WMBD) — As Central Illinois has seen a recent uptick in West Nile, a bird in Peoria County has tested positive for the virus.

The Peoria City/County Health Department announced Tuesday that a bird was the first in the county to test positive for the virus this year.

The health department said this one sample indicates that the virus is circulating in the area and is warning residents to take appropriate individual measures to protect themselves.

“West Nile virus (WNV) is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird,” states Carey Panier, Director of Environmental Health. “The Health Department has been setting mosquito traps throughout Peoria County to watch for areas of breeding and then testing those mosquitoes for WNV.”

Panier also said the department is collecting dead birds, specifically crows and bluejays, to test for evidence of West Nile in the area.

“We want the public to be aware that dead birds can also be infected with WNV, so do not handle dead birds with your bare hands,” Panier said. “Double-wrap dead birds in plastic garbage bags prior to collection or disposal. If a dead bird is found between now and October 15 and appears to have died of natural causes, you should report it to the Peoria City/County Health Department at 309-679-6161.”

The health department has listed ways to prevent West Nile or any other mosquito-borne illness:

• REDUCE exposure – Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, especially
between dusk and dawn. Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens. Repair or
replace screens that have tears or other openings. Try to keep doors and windows shut,
especially at night. Eliminate all sources of standing water where mosquitoes can breed,
including water in bird baths, ponds, flowerpots, wading pools, old tires, and any other
• REPEL mosquitoes – When outdoors, wear shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved
shirt, and apply insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR
3535, according to label instructions. Consult a physician before using repellents on infants.
• REPORT mosquito breeding grounds – In communities where there are organized mosquito
control programs, contact your municipal government to report areas of stagnant water in
roadside ditches, flooded yards, and similar locations that may produce mosquitoes.

West Nile virus symptoms include fever, nausea, headache, and muscle aches. The department said the symptoms can last from a few days up to a few weeks. It also noted that four out of five people infected will not show any symptoms. Those older than 50 are at higher risk for severe illness from West Nile.

For more information on the virus or other public health issues, visit the Peoria City/County Health Department website.