First West Nile-positive bird of 2013 found in Evanston - KMSP-TV

First West Nile-positive bird of 2013 found in Evanston

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EVANSTON, Ill. (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

A bird collected in Evanston earlier this week has tested positive for the West Nile virus. This is the first West Nile positive bird reported in Evanston for 2013, according to the North Shore Mosquito Abatement District.

While no human cases of West Nile virus have been reported so far this year, the Evanston Health Department reminds residents that exposure to WNV is a risk throughout the summer months. "Despite the lower level of West Nile Virus activity so far this year as compared to this time last year, we continue to emphasize mosquito prevention measures to Evanston residents," Evanston Health Department Director Evonda Thomas-Smith said in a release Thursday.

To date, West Nile virus positive birds and/or mosquitoes have been reported in 32 Illinois counties, according to the release from Evanston. In the past couple months, mosquitoes and birds that have tested positive for West Nile have been found in areas that include Glenview, Skokie, Bolingbrook and Naperville.

Last year, 55 counties in Illinois reported a West Nile virus positive mosquito batch, bird and/or human case. For the 2012 season, IDPH reported the second highest number of West Nile virus human cases in state history with 290 residents and 12 deaths. This was second only to the 2002 outbreak in Illinois in which 884 residents contracted West Nile disease and 67 died.

The best way to prevent West Nile disease or any other mosquito-borne illness is to reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home and to take personal precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

The Centers for Disease Control offers these tips:

• Apply insect repellent to exposed skin. Generally, the more active ingredient a repellent contains the longer it can protect you from mosquito bites. A higher percentage of active ingredient in a repellent does not mean that protection is better, just that it will last longer. Choose a repellent that provides protection for the amount of time that you will be outdoors.

• Spray clothing with repellents containing permethrin or another EPA-registered repellent since mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing. Do not apply repellents containing permethrin directly to exposed skin. Do not apply repellent to skin under your clothing.

• When weather permits, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants whenever you are outdoors.

• Place mosquito netting over infant carriers when you are outdoors with infants.

• Consider staying indoors at dawn, dusk, and in the early evening, which are peak mosquito biting times.

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