Health officials in southern Illinois are on alert after a strain of the West Nile virus was detected in a mosquito trap sample in Massac County.
Southern Seven Environmental Health Director Brad Rendelman conducted the positive test earlier this month.
He says there is little way of knowing whether the strain is part of a larger outbreak in birds, which host the virus, or if the positive test was the result of a single mosquito infected by a single bird. Illinois has the largest number of reported West Nile cases in the nation.
Rendelman says it’s tough to fight an outbreak.
“It’s a vicious circle. A bird will carry the virus, the mosquito bites a bird and then the mosquito bites you, which infects you with the West Nile virus,” he says.
Rendelman says he has added several more traps in surrounding counties to measure any growth in the virus.
He warns residents to take necessary precautions in mosquito-prone areas and be on the lookout for birds killed from visibly unexplainable causes.