PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — The Peoria City/County Health Department (PCCHD) has reported this year’s first West Nile virus positive mosquito sample in Peoria County.

According to PCCHD, West Nile virus (WNV) is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird. To combat this, the department is setting up mosquito traps across Peoria County.

While WNV is mainly transmitted via mosquito bite, officials want the public to know that there are other forms of exposure.

“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. Double wrap dead birds in plastic garbage bags prior to collection or disposal,” warns Carey Panier, Interim Director of Environmental Health for the Peoria City/County Health Department. “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.”

Panier recommends that citizens follow the rule of “The Three R’s” to keep themselves safe: reduce, repel, and report.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Report mosquito breeding grounds: Contact your municipal government to report areas of stagnant water in roadside ditches, flooded yards and similar locations that may produce mosquitoes.

Symptoms of WNV include fever, nausea, headaches, and muscle aches, lasting anywhere between a few days and a few weeks. Rare cases can lead to meningitis or encephalitis, or even death.

For more information on WNV and other public health issues, visit Peoria City/County Health Department’s website.