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West Nile Virus was just found in Decatur — Here’s what you should know

Recently it was confirmed that West Nile virus was just found in Decatur. You may have heard of West Nile virus, but what is it exactly, and should you be worried? Don’t worry — as the most trusted name in mosquito control, Mosquito Squad is here to explain.

West Nile virus is the most common mosquito-borne disease in the United States, and in 2016, became the most common vector-borne disease in Illinois, but is nearly tied with Lyme disease (a tick-borne disease). It is transmitted by the mosquito species Culex pippiens, and other members of the Culex genus, although it has been detected in many more types of mosquitoes. It is transmitted through bites from mosquitoes that picked it up from biting an infected bird.

There is no known vaccine or specific medications for West Nile. The majority of people who contract it don’t even show any symptoms, which makes it hard to count and report actual cases. Those who do show symptoms generally have mild ones, which include headaches, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash. More serious West Nile virus cases occur in one out of every 150 people infected, and those symptoms can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. People who are over age 60 are more susceptible to more severe West Nile, as are those with certain medical conditions such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease, and people who have received organ transplants.

If WNV is suspected, it is treated by treating symptoms with over-the-counter pain relievers to reduce fever and relieve some symptoms. Only in severe cases do people need to be hospitalized to receive treatment. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, last year 90 human cases were reported, which included eight deaths.

When we hear things like “West Nile has been found” in the area, it doesn’t mean it has been reported in humans . . . yet. Local health departments conduct surveillance of mosquito populations by trapping them and testing them, as well as by testing dead birds found in the area. It is usually found early in mosquito season, generally in springtime. In this case, WNV was detected in mosquitoes that were collected by the Macon Mosquito Abatement District. As temperatures get warmer, cases will become more frequently found. While there haven’t been any cases of WNV in humans reported here thus far this year, what this means is that it’s only a matter of time before an infected mosquito bites a person and transmits the disease.

The best protection from West Nile virus and other vector-borne diseases is prevention from having mosquitoes in your own yard. Mosquito Squad’s barrier treatment eliminates nearly 90% of mosquitoes (and ticks) in your yard for three weeks at a time.. Contact us today for a free consultation at 217-919-9292 to learn how we can help you take back your yard and fight the bite!

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