|September 17, 2003||West Nile
Virus Web site
WEST NILE DISEASE CASELOAD NOW TOTALS 16
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director, today reported two new cases of West Nile disease have brought the state's total caseload for the mosquito-borne disease this year to 16.
Dr. Whitaker said the latest cases were a 35-year-old man from DeKalb County, who became ill with West Nile fever on Aug. 10, and a 74-year-old woman from southern Cook County, who first reported symptoms of West Nile encephalitis on Aug. 31. The Cook County woman was hospitalized and has since been discharged. The DeKalb County man did not require hospital treatment.
The cases of West Nile disease this year have been from the city of Chicago (2) and Champaign, suburban Cook (3), DeKalb, DuPage, LaSalle, Macon, Macoupin, Piatt, Sangamon (3) and Whiteside counties. In 2002, Illinois led the nation in West Nile disease cases with 884 and 66 deaths and, as of this date last year, the state had counted 399 human cases of West Nile disease and 21 deaths.
Dr. Whitaker has encouraged people to take simple, common sense precautions to avoid mosquito bites and protect themselves from West Nile disease. He also reminded Illinoisans that the mosquito season continues until there is a sustained, hard frost, which usually occurs in late October.
The suggested precautions include:
Dr. Whitaker said -- while there is reason for concern -- few people (about 1 in 150) 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, in rare cases, death. Serious West Nile virus illness is most often present in individuals 50 years of age or older.
A total of 139 birds, 264 mosquito pools and 14 horses have tested positive in 2003 for West Nile virus in 60 Illinois counties since surveillance for the mosquito-transmitted virus 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 44states in 2003 and more than 3,600 human cases have been reported in 37 states, including Illinois.
In Illinois, the mosquito-borne disease was first confirmed in birds 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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