September 1, 2005
COOK COUNTY WOMAN IS STATE’S FIRST FATALITY
FOLLOWING WEST NILE DISEASE
Eight additional cases push state’s total to 82
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director, today announced a Cook County woman, who was reported Aug. 11 with West Nile disease, has died.
Dr. Whitaker said the 92-year-old woman died Aug. 27, after being hospitalized with West Nile neuroinvasive disease.
In addition to the woman’s death, eight new West Nile human cases have brought the state’s case total this year to 82. They are:
The state’s other cases of West Nile disease have been from Chicago (16), suburban Cook County (36), and the counties of DuPage (12), Kane (5), Lake (1), Peoria (2), St. Clair (1) and Will (1).
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 170 birds, 1,602 mosquito samples, one horse and one llama from 37 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:
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