Champaign County mosquitoes tested carrying West Nile Virus

by Jose Zepeda

The Champaign-Urbana Public Health District is reporting that certain mosquitoes in the region are carrying West Nile virus.

The news comes as the CUPHD stated in a Facebook post that mosquitoes caught in a test trap tested positive for the virus. As of Saturday, 16 counties have West Nile cases reported in mosquitoes, however, there have been no reported cases of humans testing positive for West Nile in the state.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, West Nile virus is a disease mostly associated with mosquitoes. The disease is prominent during the summer and early fall, when the mosquito population is at its peak. While there is no cure for the virus, most people (1 in 8) do not feel symptoms if infected by a mosquito with West Nile.

Some people (1 in 5) will develop a fever and feel symptoms related to fevers, such as body aches or headaches.

Other people (1 in 150) develop severe symptoms that could sometimes lead to death, especially is the central nervous system is badly hit by the virus. Some of the severe symptoms include inflammation of the brain and meningitis. People over the age of 60 and those with certain medical conditions are at higher risk of getting severe symptoms.

There are several steps you can take to minimalize the chance of being bitten by a mosquito infected with West Nile virus.

Drain standing water, this includes any water from buckets, bird baths, flowerpots, gutters and other sources where water puddles can form. This reduces the number of mosquitoes flying around your home. To help keep mosquitoes outside, install or repair any door or window screens around the house. 

When outdoors, use insect repellant to keep mosquitoes away from your body. You can further prevent mosquitos from biting you by wearing long-sleeve shirts, pants and socks. Mosquitoes may sometimes be able to bite through thinner clothes, so you can spray clothes with insect repellant to further secure those clothes.

The mosquitos that transmit the disease are most active from dusk to dawn, so further protection is needed during those times.

Jose Zepeda

Jose Zepeda is a senior at the University of Illinois majoring in journalism and minoring in political science. He is now on his third year with Good Morning Illini, previously serving as director, reporter and crew member. He is also currently a digital intern for WILL, the NPR- and PBS- affiliate in Urbana and vice-president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists University of Illinois chapter. He also has his own podcast with fellow GMI-er Angelle Cortes called Just Chillin’. He brings previous experience as a features intern at The News-Gazette and as a daytime news editor at The Daily Illini. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @JoseZepedaTV.