BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD) — A new case of West Nile Virus was reported in Central Illinois after the Illinois Department of Public Health(IDPH) reported the state’s first human case and death of 2022 in Cook County.

Thursday, Mclean County Health Department’s Environmental Division reported the first dead bird sample collected in the county to test positive for West Nile Virus this year. The sample is from the 61705 zip code area west of Bloomington.

Health Department staff handed out informational doorknob hangers about West Nile Virus and preventative measures in the neighborhood where the sample was collected.

Cases of West Nile Virus typically occur from mid-summer to early fall. It is a mosquito-born disease that can cause encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain. Mosquitoes infected with the virus pass it on to birds, other animals, and people.

Anyone can get West Nile, and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, four out of five people will experience no symptoms. However, people 50 and older are at greater risk of developing a severe illness.

“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.”

There are ways you can protect yourself from West Nile Virus. McLean County Health Department recommends following the three Rs:

  1. Reduce the mosquito population by removing areas of standing water around your yard or business where mosquitoes can breed, such as old tires or unused planting pots. Mosquitoes need stagnant water to breed. It can take less than a week for eggs to hatch to larvae and become biting adults.
  2. Repel mosquitoes by using insect repellent that includes DEET, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or picaridin; and wear clothing that covers your skin, especially at dusk and dawn (when mosquitoes are most active).
  3. Report dead birds that show no sign of injury.
    • McLean County residents who find dead birds around their property should contact MCHD to report them, so they can be tested for WNV. A cluster of 5 or more dead birds could be a sign of the presence of Avian Flu.
      • Report by calling (309) 888-5482 Mon-Fri 8:00-4:30.
    • If you need to dispose of dead birds on your property, assume that the birds are carrying disease, wear a facial mask, and avoid direct contact with skin. Double wrap the dead bird in plastic or paper before disposing of in a secure trash can in an area not accessible to children or pets.

More information is available on the health department’s website.