State

Illinois begins annual West Nile virus program

CHICAGO – Health officials said they’ve started their annual efforts to prevent the mosquito-borne West Nile virus from infecting Illinois residents.

The Illinois Department of Public Health announced Wednesday the department was accepting dead birds for testing and has awarded grants to local health departments.

The nearly $3 million in grants went to 92 health departments based on population and West Nile virus surveillance for the past three years.

Local health departments can use the money to improve prevention programs that include collecting birds and mosquito samples for West Nile virus testing, and to control larval mosquitoes. The grants may also be used to educate the public and investigate human cases.

Last year, 11 people died in Illinois from West Nile virus.

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