May 24, 2005
TEST POSITIVE FOR WEST NILE VIRUS
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Mosquito samples collected in DuPage County and a dead crow found in Woodford County have been confirmed as the first positive test results in Illinois this year for West Nile virus, Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director, today announced.
Dr. Whitaker said the Illinois Department of Public Health was notified by both counties of the findings as part of their routine surveillance for West Nile virus. The positive mosquito samples were collected May 16 and May 19 in Naperville and May 23 in Wayne and the dead crow was collected May 19 in El Paso.
“These findings are not surprising,” Dr. Whitaker said. “ West Nile virus activity has been present in the state for the past several years and we expected to see activity again this year. These findings should serve as a reminder to citizens to take precautions to prevent contracting this mosquito-borne disease.”
In 2004, the first positive bird and mosquito were reported May 10 in DuPage County. In all, last year 62 of the state’s 102 counties were found to have a West Nile positive bird, mosquito, horse or human case. A total of 60 human cases of West Nile disease, including four fatalities, were reported last year in Illinois.
Illinois’ surveillance for West Nile virus began May 1 and includes laboratory tests on mosquitoes, dead crows and blue jays, and the testing of sick horses and humans with West Nile-like disease symptoms. Citizens who observe a sick or dying crow or blue jay should contact their local health department, which will determine if the bird is to be picked up for testing.
In 2002, the state led the nation with 884 human cases, including 66 deaths, and West Nile activity was reported in 100 of 102 counties. In 2003, 75 of the state’s 102 counties reported West Nile activity and there were 54 human cases of the mosquito-borne disease, including one fatality. Public health officials believe that a hot summer, like that of 2002, could increase mosquito activity and the risk of disease from West Nile virus.
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. The first human case in Illinois is not usually reported until July or later.
Only about two persons out of 10 who are bitten by an infected mosquito will experience any illness. Illness from West Nile is usually mild and includes fever, headache and body aches, but serious illness, such as encephalitis and meningitis, and death are possible. Persons older than 50 years of age have the highest risk of severe disease.
The best way to prevent West Nile disease or any other mosquito-borne illness is to reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home and to take personal precautions to avoid mosquito bites. Precautions include:
Additional information about West Nile virus can be found on the Department’s Web site at www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/wnv.htm or people can call the West Nile Virus Hotline at 866-369-9710 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
Questions or Comments