|August 19, 2003||West Nile
Virus Web site
FIRST ILLINOIS HUMAN CASE OF WEST NILE DISEASE REPORTED
SPRINGFIELD, IL Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director, today announced that laboratory tests have identified a Champaign County man as the state's first human case this year of West Nile disease.
The 69-year-old man, who is an outdoor enthusiast, became ill on August 7 and is currently hospitalized. Last year, Illinois led the nation in West Nile disease cases with 884 and 66 deaths.
Laboratory tests performed by the Illinois Department of Public Health were positive for the mosquito-borne disease and confirmatory tests are pending at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"Human illness caused by the West Nile virus has been expected this year and other cases will likely be reported in the coming weeks," Dr.Whitaker said. "As we have warned repeatedly, Illinoisans need to take some simple, common sense precautions to avoid mosquito bites and protect themselves from this disease."
This year, a total of 45 birds, 72 mosquito pools and two horses have tested positive for West Nile virus in 31 Illinois counties since surveillance for the mosquito-transmitted virus began May 1.
In 2003, West Nile virus activity has been detected in at least 42 states and human cases have been reported 28 states, including Illinois.
Dr. Whitaker said -- while there is reason for concern few people will develop serious illness, even 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. 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.
Dr. Whitaker said infections can be mild 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, rarely, death. Serious West Nile virus illness is most often present in individuals 50 years of age or older.
Hospitals and infectious disease physicians have been notified of the positive West Nile virus case and reminded to order tests for arbovirus infections for patients with appropriate symptoms.
Illinois' 2003 surveillance for West Nile virus includes collecting dead crows and blue jays (other species of birds are not collected for testing). Citizens who see sick or dying crows and blue jays should contact their local health department, which will determine if the bird is to be picked up for testing.
Dr. Whitaker added that the Department is providing communities with information about integrated vector management programs that can help to prevent and to control West Nile and other arboviral diseases. These programs include surveillance for West Nile virus activity in mosquito vectors, birds, horses, other animals and humans, and recommendations for appropriate preventive control measures "larviciding" or treatment of mosquito production sites to reduce mosquito populations when necessary.
Horse owners also should take precautions to minimize exposure of their animals to mosquitoes. A vaccine to protect horses from WNV became available in 2001. While susceptible to the virus, horses are not known to transmit the disease to other horses or to humans.
Last year, more than 4,100 cases of West Nile disease and more than 280 deaths were recorded in the United States. The mosquito-borne disease was first confirmed in birds in Illinois in September 2001 and the state's first ever human case was reported in August 2002.
The Culex or house mosquito, which can carry West Nile virus or the St. Louis encephalitis virus, breeds in warm, stagnant water and increases in numbers early in the summer.
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
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