Press Release

October 27, 2005


Human case total stands at 240  

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director, today announced three additional cases of West Nile virus disease have been identified in the state, bringing to 240 the number of cases reported so far this year in Illinois.

The new cases are:

  • A 25-year-old man from suburban Cook County who was hospitalized with West Nile Neuroinvasive disease and has since been discharged.
  • A 51-year-old man from Rock Island County who has West Nile disease.
  • A 15-year-old boy from St. Clair County who was hospitalized with West Nile Neuroinvasive disease and has since been discharged.

The state’s other cases of West Nile disease have been from Chicago (33), suburban Cook County (97), and the counties of Carroll (1), Christian (1), DuPage (45), Kane (16), Kankakee (3), Kendall (3), Lake (11), LaSalle (1), Marshall (1), McHenry (3), McLean (3), Peoria (7), Sangamon (1), Schuyler (1), St. Clair (1), Will (7) and Winnebago (2). Ten West Nile patients have died this year.

West Nile virus 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.

Only about two persons out of 10 who are bitten by an infected mosquito will experience any illness. Illness from West Nile disease is usually mild and includes fever, headache and body aches, but serious illness, such as neuroinvasive disease, and death are possible.

Neuroinvasive disease is the most severe form of the West Nile virus and affects a person’s nervous system. Specific types of neuroinvasive disease include: West Nile encephalitis, West Nile meningitis or West Nile meningoencephalitis. Encephalitis refers to an inflammation of the brain, meningitis is an inflammation of the membrane around the brain and the spinal cord, and meningoencephalitis refers to inflammation of the brain and the membrane surrounding it. Persons older than 50 years of age have the highest risk of severe disease.

In addition to human cases, a total of 227 birds, 2,458 mosquito samples, 12 horses and one llama from 49 counties have tested positive for West Nile virus since surveillance for the mosquito-borne disease began on May 1.

In 2004, Illinois recorded 60 human cases of West Nile disease, including four deaths, and in 2003, there were 54 human cases, including one death. The state led the nation in 2002 with 884 human cases of West Nile disease and 67 deaths.

Because West Nile virus activity in Culex mosquitoes increases during hot weather, personal protection against mosquitoes is particularly important during August and September. Dr. Whitaker said individuals can reduce their risk of West Nile illness and other mosquito-borne diseases by taking these precautions:

  • Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, especially between dusk and dawn.
  • When outdoors, wear shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, and apply insect repellent that includes DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus according to label instructions. Consult a physician before using repellents on infants.
  • Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens. Repair or replace screens that have tears or other openings. Try to keep doors and windows shut, especially at night.
  • Eliminate all sources of standing water that can support mosquito breeding, including water in bird baths, ponds, flowerpots, wading pools, old tires and any other receptacles. In communities where there are organized mosquito control programs, contact your municipal government to report areas of stagnant water in roadside ditches, flooded yards and similar locations that may produce mosquitoes.

Additional information about West Nile virus can be found on the Department’s Web site at or people can call the West Nile Virus Hotline at 866-369-9710 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

idph online home
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Illinois Department of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
Phone 217-782-4977
Fax 217-782-3987
TTY 800-547-0466
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