September 12, 2005
FIVE NEW CASES OF WEST NILE VIRUS CONFIRMED
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director, today announced five new West Nile disease cases have been identified in the state, bringing to 123 the number of cases reported so far this year in Illinois.
The new cases are:
The state’s other cases of West Nile disease have been from Chicago (21), suburban Cook County (62), and the counties of DuPage (16), Kane (8), Lake (2), McHenry (1), Peoria (4), St. Clair (1) and Will (3). There have been two West Nile disease fatalities reported this year – a 92-year-old woman from suburban Cook County who died Aug. 2 and an 85-year-old man from Lake County who died Sept. 5.
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 186 birds, 1,807 mosquito samples, two horses and one llama from 38 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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