West Nile mosquitoes in Jackson County

By Marissa Novel

Routine mosquito testing found mosquitoes positive for the West Nile virus south of Carbondale in Jackson County but no human cases have been reported.

The mosquitos were collected Friday. A dead crow found in the same area also tested positive for the virus earlier this month according to a press release from the Jackson County Health Department.

Burt Hagston, environmental health director for Jackson County, said mosquitoes from the area are collected and tested weekly starting in April through October.


“Typically we see our first batch of mosquitoes positive for the virus in Jackson County in mid to late June,” Hagston said. “We were a little behind the norm this year I think just because we’ve had a cooler summer.”

Hagston said that mosquitoes start testing positive for the virus as the temperature rises.

“The months of July, August and early September are when we typically see West Nile virus activity amplify in mosquito populations,” he said. “So this I think will be the first of many multiple mosquito batches that we get with West Nile virus in them”

Douglas Fix, a microbiology professor, said Illinois had the highest number of cases of the virus in 2002, around 880. Since then, he said, the virus has been at lower levels and usually goes undetected.

“There are obviously cases in which people die but the vast majority of people who are actually infected may never know it,” Fix said.

In total, 18 Illinois counties have identified the virus in birds and mosquitoes. Last year, eleven deaths resulted from 117 cases in the state. Two cases were reported from Jackson County.

The health department encourages individuals to reduce their risk by using the three “R’s”- reduce, repel, report.


To reduce exposure, keep windows and doors closed and avoid being outdoors at dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active. Eliminate sources of standing water and change birdbaths weekly.

To repel mosquitoes, keep skin mostly covered with protective clothing and use repellants containing DEET, picaridin or IR3535 according to label instructions.

To report, call the health department to report sick or dying crows, blue jays, robins or other perching birds. Also, report instances of stagnant water or similar locations that may produce mosquitos to the Carbondale Mosquito Abatement District.

The abatement district is privately owned and operates through Carbondale Township.

Symptoms of the virus are usually fever, nausea, headaches and body aches, and occur 3-14 days after being bitten. Other serious illnesses are possible, especially amongst people more than 50 years old.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only one in five people infected will show symptoms and less than 1 percent of the infected develop serious illnesses.

The abatement district can be reached at 618-549-2150.

Marissa Novel can be reached at [email protected]on Twitter @MarissaNovelDE or at 536-3311 ext. 268.