West Nile Virus

West Nile Virus Information
Clean Air Counts – Make a Difference in Your Community
Health fact sheets – Illinois Department of Public Health
Much attention has been devoted lately to the spread of the "West Nile Virus". While the virus first was identified in the United States in 1999, September of 2001 has found the virus widespread throughout the country – including cases causing bird deaths in Illinois and human deaths in other states.
Virus Information
Village of Alsip Activities
Reporting Dead Birds
Symptoms of West Nile Encephalitis
Helpful Links
Virus Information

West Nile virus is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito, and can infect people, horses, many types of birds, and some other animals.

Most people who become infected with West Nile virus will have either no symptoms or only mild flu-like symptoms.

Even in areas where the virus is circulating, very few mosquitoes are infected with the virus. Even if the mosquito is infected, less than 1% of people who get bitten and become infected will get severely ill. The chances you will become severely ill from any one mosquito bite are extremely small.

On rare occasions, West Nile virus infection can result in a severe and sometimes fatal illness known as West Nile encephalitis (an inflammation of the brain). The risk of severe disease is higher for persons 50 years of age and older.

There is no evidence to suggest that West Nile virus can be spread from person to person or from animal to person.


As noted above, West Nile Virus is spread by bites from infected mosquitoes. Not all mosquitoes are infected, nor do all persons bitten by infected mosquitos suffer all of the effects of the virus. Human illness from West Nile virus is rare, even in areas where the virus has been reported. The chance that any one person is going to become ill from a mosquito bite is low.

The best method of preventing the contraction of the virus is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. Ways to enhance this include:

• Apply insect repellent containing DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) when you’re outdoors.
• Wear long-sleeved clothes and long pants treated with repellent and stay indoors during peak mosquito feeding hours (dusk until dawn).
• Limit the number of places available for mosquitos to lay their eggs by eliminating standing water sources from around your home. Some ways to do this include keeping rain gutters free of leaves and other debris, emptying or removing containers of freestanding water, and cleaning bird baths every 3 days.
• Regularly maintain swimming pools and hot tubs.
• Make sure window and door screens are tight fitting and in good repair.
Village of Alsip Activities

The Village of Alsip is also actively working to reduce mosquito populations. Through Cook County our primary method of doing this is by placing biological larvaecide cakes into standing water areas of our drainage ways and detention ponds. This effort is designed to kill the larvae from which mosquitoes are hatched, without risk to domestic animals.

We are also spraying in areas of particular concern. This is mostly dependent upon the physical nature of area, insect populations, and atmospheric conditions (spraying is only effective in low-wind conditions).

Several of our personnel have attended training concerning the particulars of the virus and mosquito control.

Should you know of a public waterway or detention pond that needs additional work concerning mosquito prevention, please call our Public Works Department at 385-6902 extension 364.

Reporting Dead Birds

Dead birds in an area may mean that West Nile virus is circulating between the birds and the mosquitoes in that area. Observations of dead birds, especially crows, have proved to be a sensitive indicator of West Nile virus, therefore the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is monitoring these reports to assist in their surveillance of the virus.

The public can play an important role in monitoring West Nile virus through reporting freshly dead birds – crows, blue jays, and raptors – to the IDPH at 1-866-369-9710 during regular business hours.

Symptoms of West Nile Encephalitis

Most infections are mild, and symptoms include fever, headache, and body aches, occasionally with skin rash and swollen lymph glands. More severe infection may be marked by headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, paralysis, and, rarely, death.

The time from infection to onset of disease symptoms is usually 3-15 days.

Persons over 50 years of age have the highest risk of severe disease.

Helpful Links

The information presented above was mostly taken from the two following sources:

Illinois Department of Public Heath Department

Centers for Disease Control