Health Department Initiatives in Public Education, Surveillance and Response to WNV
Increasing public awareness of the need for mosquito control, ongoing surveillance of vulnerable populations and coordination of response to outbreaks offers the best chance of controlling this disease
The Environmental Health Division takes a lead role in Will County efforts to combat outbreaks of WNV by raising public awareness about the disease through education, surveillance of potentially infected humans, mammals, and birds; and controlling the spread of the disease. West Nile Virus is a mosquito-borne virus that can cause mild illness (West Nile fever) or severe symptoms (encephalitis or meningitis) in humans bitten by infected mosquitoes. Mosquitoes can become infected when they feed on birds that are carrying the virus. Currently there is no vaccine for WNV, and therefore mosquito abatement is one of the most important tools used to reduce the incidence of the disease. The young, immune-compromised, and people of the age of 50 and over are more likely to develop serious symptoms from WNV. These groups of people should take special care to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.
Monday – Friday 8:00AM – 4:30PM
Monday – Friday 8:00AM – 4:00PM
Monday – Friday 8:00AM – 4:00PM
West Nile Virus Awareness Among the General Public and Health and Veterinarians
Increased public awareness is key to mitigating the effects of West Nile Virus as outbreaks occur. Given the fact that there is no vaccine for WNV, an enhanced understanding of the symptoms and treatment of the disease on the part of physicians and other health professionals affords the best changes of receiving timely medical treatment and/or palliative care once diagnosed.
In order to increase awareness among the general public, the Will County Health Department Environmental Health Division provides information to county residents via press releases, news articles, social media, public education forums, and outreach events. Information provided includes how residents can stem the spread of the virus by denying mosquitoes areas to breed in stagnant water on their property and personal protection against mosquito bites.
Response to the Threat of WNV
Informing the Public and Testing in Response to an Outbreak
In the event of a dead bird testing positive for WNV or the identification of a confirmed or suspected human case, the Department will immediately notify the public and provide information on how they may best protect themselves. The Department will use various means of notification to the public, including press releases, social media, news outlets, and radio spots on WJOL. If a human case has been confirmed, the Department will alert area health care providers, municipalities, and the general public as the potential for additional transmission from mosquitos to humans may exist.
The Department will coordinate with local municipalities and mosquito abatement contacts to ensure that appropriate control measures are carried out. Subject to funding, the Department will also work with IDPH and local agencies to implement mosquito control programs in areas of the county that are not already covered. The Department will also ensure that a coordinated interagency response is maintained in an emergency event.
In addition, WCHD will continue monitoring, collecting, and testing mosquito traps throughout the county, and monitoring and collection of viable dead birds for submittal to the State lab for analysis as required by the IDPH.
By undertaking these measures and maintaining vigilance, the Will County Health Department hopes to prevent illness, disability, or possible death from West Nile Virus.