Try not to scratch that mosquito bite. 

DECATUR — West Nile virus has been detected in a batch of mosquitoes tested in Macon County.

The county Health Department on Friday reported it was in a sample collected by the Macon Mosquito Abatement District, but didn't provide a specific location. The agency tests daily. The first positive test last year was in June. 

"It is unusual to have the first positive WNV test this late into the season. Normally we see WNV positive tests beginning in early June or July," said Abatement District Sam Force in a statement. 

Statewide, 5.6 percent of samples tested positive this year, compared to 18 percent in 2018 and 25 percent 2012. There are five human cases reported in Illinois currently, compared to 176 cases in 2018.

Carol Carlton, clinical nursing services director at the county Health Department, said in a statement that a common misconception is that there is no risk if mosquitoes are not visible. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus go much more undetected in comparison to swarms of floodwater mosquitoes spotted during rainy summers. 

The Health Department began its seasonal West Nile Virus campaign in May 2019. It encourages people to get rid of any standing water near homes, to use insect repellent when mosquitoes are out and informs about other prevention methods. They also test birds and encourage anyone who finds a dead one to call (217) 423-6988, extension 1134.

“The surveillance of birds and mosquitoes provides an early warning. I urge residents to protect themselves and their family while outside when mosquitoes are biting," said Kathy Wade, environmental health director at the Macon County Health Department, in a statement.

"Most people who are bit by a mosquito carrying West Nile virus may have very mild symptoms; however, in some people over the age of 50 and those with chronic health conditions, the illness can be more severe.”

Anyone who is aware of a standing water area that has been sitting for three days or more is asked to call (217) 875-2722.


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