Bird collected near Sterling tests positive for West Nile virus

The northern house mosquito (Culex pipiens) can transmit the West Nile virus from infected birds to humans.

STERLING — A deceased bird collected May 31 near Sterling has tested positive for the West Nile virus, according to Jennifer Kolb, director of environmental health for the Whiteside County Health Department.

Mosquitoes become infected with West Nile virus by feeding on infected birds and can then spread West Nile virus to humans and other animals through their bite. Culex mosquitoes are the primary vector responsible for spreading West Nile virus to humans. These mosquitoes are typically found near stagnant or standing water in barrels, horse troughs, ornamental ponds, unmaintained swimming pools, puddles, creeks, ditches and marshy areas and are most likely to bite during dawn and dusk.

Typically August and September are when WNV activity is at its highest; the threat of West Nile exposure can remain until the first frost. It is important for the public to take some simple precautions, including practicing the three “R’s” – reduce, repel and report, according to Kolb.

Reduce exposure

  • Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, especially between dusk and dawn.
  • Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens and repair or replace any with tears or openings.
  • Try to keep doors and windows shut, especially at night.
  • Eliminate all sources of standing water where mosquitoes can breed, including flowerpots, wading pools, old tires, clogged rain gutters, old boats and any other receptacles, and change the water in bird baths weekly.


  • Wear shoes and socks, long pants and long-sleeved shirts when outdoors.
  • Apply insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR 3535, according to label instructions, when outdoors. Consult a physician before using repellents on infants.


  • Report dead birds to the Whiteside County Health Department.
  • If your community has an organized mosquito control program, contact your municipal government about areas of stagnant water in roadside ditches, flooded yards and similar locations that may produce mosquitoes.

Additional information about West Nile virus can be found by visiting or

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