Dead bird found in Paxton tests positive for West Nile virus

PAXTON — A dead bird found in Paxton has tested positive for the West Nile virus — the first such case in the county this year.

The dead crow was submitted to the Ford County Public Health Department on July 17 to be tested for possible West Nile virus infection. It was found in Paxton the preceding weekend, a health department official said.

This was the third time West Nile has been found in the Ford County seat in the past four years. Other dead birds tested positive for the virus in 2013 and 2016.

“The positive bird is an indication that West Nile virus is circulating in our area, and individuals should take appropriate preventive measures to protect their health,” said Nancy Mandamuna, environmental health specialist for the Ford County Public Health Department.

West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird.

Surveillance for West Nile virus includes laboratory tests on mosquito batches, dead crows, blue jays, robins and other perching birds, as well as testing sick horses and humans with West Nile-like disease symptoms. 

If a dead bird is found between May 1 and Oct. 15 and appears to have died of natural causes, people should report it to the Ford County Public Health Department at 217-379-9281.

In humans, common West Nile virus symptoms include fever, nausea, headache and muscle aches. Symptoms may last from a few days to a few weeks. However, four out of five people infected with West Nile virus will not show any symptoms. In rare cases, severe illness, including meningitis or encephalitis or even death, can occur. People older than 50 are at higher risk for severe illness from West Nile virus.

“The best way to prevent West Nile disease or any other mosquito-borne illness is to reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home and to take personal precautions to avoid mosquito bites,” Mandamuna said. “Precautions include practicing the three ‘R’s’ — reduce, repel and report.”

REDUCE exposure — Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, especially between dusk and dawn. Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens. Repair or replace screens that have tears or other openings. Try to keep doors and windows shut, especially at night. Eliminate all sources of standing water where mosquitoes can breed, including water in bird baths, ponds, flowerpots, wading pools, old tires and any other receptacles.

REPEL mosquitoes — When outdoors, wear shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, and apply insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR 3535, according to label instructions. Consult a physician before using repellents on infants.

REPORT mosquito breeding grounds — In communities where there are organized mosquito control programs, contact your municipal government to report areas of stagnant water in roadside ditches, flooded yards and similar locations that may produce mosquitoes.

Additional information about West Nile virus may be found on the Illinois Department of Public Health’s website at

Categories (3):News, Miscellaneous, Health
Location (3):Local, Paxton, Ford County


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