Updated: August 16, 2011 12:27AM
Two birds collected in LaSalle County — including one in Sandwich — tested positive for West Nile virus, the first such discovery this year in northern Illinois, according to state public health officials.
The birds, collected June 8 in LaSalle and Sandwich, both tested positive for the virus, according to a release from the Illinois Department of Public Health on Thursday. Officials reported Tuesday that a the first mosquito to test positive for West Nile was collected downstate in Tazewell County.
“With the temperature heating up, we could see more West Nile virus circulating,” said Dr. Damon T. Arnold, the state’s public health director, said in the release.
West Nile testing on dead birds, mosquitoes, sick horses and humans displaying symptoms of the virus began May 1. Last year, 30 of the state’s 102 counties reported at least one positive test.
Sixty-one people tested positive for the virus in 2010, the release said. Only about two of every 10 people bitten by an infected mosquito will experience any illness, which includes symptoms such as fever, headaches and body aches. However, serious illness is possible in some cases, especially in people over 50.
Health officials are reminding residents to eliminate any standing water near their home, make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens and wear long-sleeved clothing and insect repellent outdoors to avoid mosquito bites.