STERLING, Ill. — Editor's note: The above video aired on May 27.
The Whiteside County Health Department said it has found evidence of the West Nile Virus in the area. According to health officials, mosquito samples collected on Aug. 1 near the northwest edge of Sterling tested positive for the virus.
The positive tests place a possible West Nile infection area in a roughly 1/4 mile radius around where the virus was found, matching the Culex mosquito's 1/4 mile flight range.
Infected mosquitoes buzzing around the Sterling area pose a higher risk of exposure and danger to local residents.
On Monday, Aug. 8, the Mercer County Health Department reported it had discovered West Nile in its mosquito population.
The U.S. is currently in the middle of peak West Nile Virus season, as the threat of exposure via mosquito can last until the first frost of the year.
The virus is transmitted through the bites of mosquitoes, who pick up the virus after feeding on infected birds.
The health department wants to remind the public of the strategies that can use to help avoid exposure to West Nile, known as the three Rs:
- Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, especially between dusk and dawn.
- Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens and repair or replace any with tears or openings.
- Try to keep doors and windows shut, especially at night.
- Eliminate all sources of standing water where mosquitoes can breed, including flowerpots, wading pools, old tires, clogged rain gutters, old boats and any other receptacles. Change the water in bird baths weekly.
- Wear shoes and socks, long pants and long-sleeved shirts when outdoors.
- Apply insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR 3535 according to label instructions when outdoors. Consult a physician before using repellents on infants.
- Report dead birds to your local health department.
- If your community has an organized mosquito control program, contact your municipal government about areas of stagnant water in roadside ditches, flooded yards and similar locations that may produce mosquitoes.