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Director of Environmental Health
HQ Phone:  (815) 626-2230
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1300 W. 2Nd St
Rock Falls, Illinois,61071
Whiteside County Health Department (WCHD), established in 1966, has developed into a full service comprehensive agency with approximately 140 employees. Not only does the WCHD deliver the traditional public health services like environmental, immunizations, in... more.
Vice President Operations
"This isn't the type of environment where the culex mosquito typically lays its eggs," said Gene Johnston, Whiteside County Health Department environmental director.
"They are more likely to lay eggs in containers, tires, and empty pools where there is no current or habitat." Johnston said the banks of the pond could, however, be a fertile breeding ground for the basic floodwater mosquito.
"The two owls fell over dead for no apparently reason according to our contact which made us suspect that the bird was infected," said Gene Johnston, WCHD environmental coordinator.
One of the owls was packaged and sent to the Illinois Department of Agriculture lab in Galesburg for testing to determine if it had West Nile disease. The lab reported late Friday, July 30, that owl was positive for West Nile, Johnston said. "Owls are just as vulnerable as most other birds," he said. Mosquitoes transmit West Nile virus to birds, horses and people. West Nile virus transmits from mosquitoes that get the virus from infected birds and then transmit it to people. West Nile virus does not spread by person-to-person contact or directly from animals to people. Recent hot temperatures are providing conditions for West Nile virus to develop, Johnston said. Culex mosquitoes, the primary vector for the spread of west nile virus, typically reproduce in artificial container other stagnant pools of water and come out at dawn and dusk to feed on birds or others. So far, Whiteside County Health Department has sent five birds in for testing. Each local health department can send a maximum of 10. Whiteside County Health Department also has conducted mosquito pool testing since the first week in July in Sterling, Rock Falls and Morrison. All tests have come up negative in those areas, Johnston said.
The positive West Nile virus in a human is also very early for the area, said Gene Johnston, Whiteside County Health Department's environment director. "This early we haven't had one.This human case came earlier than we have had in the past," Johnston said. Late August and September is when West Nile virus typically shows up in Whiteside County, Johnston said. "We are surprised of having a human case before we have had any signs through surveillance," Johnston said.
'The virus has amplified enough so we are picking up mosquitoes throughout the county, in the middle, the east and west,' said Gene Johnston, director of environmental health for the Whiteside County Health Department. The latest batch of mosquitoes carrying West Nile Virus was found in Fulton on Sept. 12.Traps were set the nights of Sept. 10-11 in the southeast portion of Fulton, near the Manufacturers Addition subdivision, Mr. Johnston said. Mosquitoes with West Nile Virus were collected Sept. 6 in Morrison, and a dead crow was found Aug. 16 in Sterling. This week's hot weather will add to the formation of infected mosquitoes. 'The risk still remains until we get one or two hard frosts,' Mr. Johnston said.
In any meat product, the flesh should not be pink, and any juices coming out of it should be clear, said Gene Johnston, environmental health director for the Whiteside County Health Department. Foods that require less preparation -- such as those that are precooked -- tend to be less risky, and those kinds of foods are what typically is found at an outside event, Mr. Johnston said. Consumers also should consider the workers preparing the food and how they handle it, officials said.Do the preparers have clean hands and clothes?Are they using gloves or other means to minimize contact with the food they are serving? And at outside events, insects also are a factor.Most booths have safeguards like screens or air curtains, but anyone eating outside should be mindful of bugs, Mr. Johnston said. "Flies are vectors," he said.
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