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Early Mosquito Season Sparks Concerns Amid West Nile Risk in US

Early Mosquito Season Sparks Concerns Amid West Nile Risk in US

United States: Mosquitoes-borne diseases have become a matter of concern for the health authorities and experts this year due to mild winter and spring. Because of this, the threat associated with West Nile Virus has also suddenly surged.

Recently, the health authorities of Illinois issued a warning regarding the emergence of mosquitoes in the state.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has identified 13 counties across the state where mosquito samples have tested positive, i.e. Champaign, Cook, Douglas, Fulton, Kane, Hancock, LaSalle, Morgan, Washington, Whiteside, Williamson, Winnebago, and Woodford, according to wgntv.com.

As of now, there have been no reported cases of West Nile virus in humans in Illinois in 2024. However, last year, IDPH documented 119 human cases and six fatalities, while in 2022, there were 34 human cases and seven deaths reported.

A county is deemed positive for West Nile if a bird, mosquito group, horse, or human from that area tests positive for the virus. IDPH has verified 11 positive mosquito pools and ten positive avian cases within these 13 counties.

Laboratories statewide will analyze mosquito batches, deceased birds, and ill horses and humans displaying symptoms resembling those of West Nile. Bird owners who experience sick or dead crow, blue jay, robin, or similar perching birds are advised to report to their local health department for analysis.

Authorities admonished the public to avoid wandering out in the evening and that any exposed water be removed; also advised people to close their doors and windows at night. Similarly, if one is out in the open, he may wear a long dress or apply insect repellent with DEET, as stated in wgntv.com.

It is transmitted by the mosquito, which gets infected from feeding on an infected bird that contains the virus.

This information from CDC shows that majority if people infected by West Nile virus do not show signs of health complications. About 20 percent of individuals affected get sick and experience symptoms that include fever, headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or skin rash. Potential complications are encephalitis and meningitis which are severe conditions that can develop in individuals with the mentioned viral infections.

In more severe cases, which are rare, West Nile virus has potentially lethal consequences.

People with comorbidities, such as the elderly across sixty years and above, and those with suppressed immune systems are vulnerable to severe disease.

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