|October 1, 2003||West Nile
Virus Web site
COOK COUNTY WOMAN IS YEAR'S FIRST WEST NILE DEATH
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director, today announced an elderly suburban Cook County woman has been identified as the state's first fatality this year from West Nile disease. Last year, Illinois led the nation with 66 West Nile disease deaths, including 41 in Cook County.
Dr. Whitaker said the 78-year-old woman, who first became ill Sept. 17 and was hospitalized three days later with West Nile encephalitis, died Tuesday (Sept. 30).
In addition to the woman's death, Dr. Whitaker also reported another suburban Cook County case has pushed the state's total number of human cases this year to 26. The 47-year-old woman, who became ill Sept. 10, was hospitalized with West Nile encephalitis and has since been discharged.
The state's other cases of the mosquito-borne disease this year have been from the city of Chicago (2), suburban Cook County (7), DuPage County (2), Sangamon County (3) and one each from and Champaign, DeKalb, LaSalle, Macon, Macoupin, McLean, Piatt, St. Clair, Vermilion and Whiteside counties.
In 2002, Illinois had the most West Nile disease cases in the nation with 884 and, as of this date last year, the state had reported 599 human cases and 33 deaths.
Although temperatures have cooled recently, Dr. Whitaker reminded Illinoisans it was still important to follow simple, common sense precautions to reduce the chance of mosquito bites until their area experiences a sustained hard freeze (27 degrees F or less for several hours). Until a hard freeze kills the mosquitoes, some will remain and may bite during warm fall daylight hours, especially in areas near dense vegetation where they hide.
Suggested precautions include:
Dr. Whitaker said - while there is reason for concern - few people (about 1 in 150) will develop serious illness if bitten by an infected mosquito.
WNV is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird.
Dr. Whitaker said most people with the virus have no clinical symptoms of illness, but some may become ill three to 14 days after the bite of an infected mosquito. Those who become ill may have mild symptoms and include fever, headache and body aches, or can be severe and marked by headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, convulsions, muscle weakness, paralysis and, in rare cases, death. Serious West Nile virus illness is most often present in individuals 50 years of age or older.
A total of 213 birds, 384 mosquito pools and 25 horses have tested positive in 2003 for West Nile virus in 66 Illinois counties since surveillance began May 1. Last year, West Nile activity was reported in 100 of the state's 102 counties.
West Nile virus has been detected in 45 states in 2003 and more than 5,700 human cases have been reported.
The Culex or house mosquito, which can carry West Nile virus or the St. Louis encephalitis virus, breeds in warm, stagnant water and remains active and biting until there is a hard frost, which usually occurs in late October.
Additional information about West Nile virus can be found on the Department's Web site http://www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/wnv.htm or by calling the Department's West Nile virus hotline at 1-866-369-9710.
of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
Questions or Comments