CHAMPAIGN — Local health officials are stepping up their warning to protect against mosquito bites, after several more mosquito samples in Champaign-Urbana have tested positive for West Nile virus.
Hot and dry conditions are ideal for amplifying West Nile virus between birds and mosquitoes, according to Jim Roberts, environmental health director at the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District.
Champaign County is one of 24 counties in Illinois in which birds or mosquito samples have tested positive for West Nile, a virus that can produce a slight fever or headache or more serious flu-like symptoms and, in the most severe cases, death.
About one-fifth of those infected will experience symptoms. People most at risk for serious symptoms are those over age 50 or with chronic illnesses.
Infection is prevented by preventing mosquito bites, so do your best to avoid contact, health officials advise. Cover up with clothing, apply insect repellent, make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens and try to avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are the most active, at down, dusk and early evening.
Since mosquitoes breed in standing water, empty bird baths, wading pools, pet dishes and other sources around the house a couple of times a week.