|September 8, 2003||West Nile
Virus Web site
TWO NEW DOWNSTATE HUMAN WEST NILE DISEASE CASES
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - The number of human cases of West Nile disease in Illinois this year has risen to five with the announcement today by Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director, that two new downstate cases have been identified.
Dr. Whitaker said the latest cases were a 75-year-old woman from Whiteside County with West Nile fever, who was hospitalized and has been released, and an 83-year-old woman from LaSalle County with West Nile encephalitis, who remains hospitalized.
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.
The state's other cases this year have been a 69-year-old man from Champaign County with West Nile encephalitis, a 16-year-old boy from Macoupin County with West Nile fever and a 73-year-old woman from Sangamon County with West Nile fever.
Last year, Illinois led the nation in West Nile disease cases with 884 and 66 deaths. At this time in 2002, the Department had reported 268 human cases of West Nile disease and 10 deaths.
Dr. Whitaker again 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 89 birds, 180 mosquito pools and four horses have tested positive for West Nile virus in 46 Illinois counties in 2003 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 activity has been detected in at least 44 states in 2003 and 2,324 human cases have been reported in 35 states, including Illinois. Colorado has the most West Nile disease human cases this year with 940 and 11 deaths.
Last year, more than 4,000 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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