Press Release

August 17, 2006


Three more human cases of West Nile virus reported in Illinois this year

Henderson County - newest county reporting West Nile virus positive mosquitoes

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – A DuPage County woman in her 70’s, a Cook County man in his 60’s and a Cook County boy are the latest cases of West Nile virus neuroinvasive disease to be reported to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). Previously a woman in her 70’s and another in her 80’s, both of Cook County, were reported with neuroinvasive disease. The first human case of West Nile virus in Illinois this year was reported August 1 and was a St. Clair County man in his 60’s with West Nile fever.

“All but one human case of West Nile virus in Illinois this year has been in people over 65. Older adults have a higher risk of severe disease when infected with West Nile and need to make sure they wear insect repellant when going outside,” said Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director. “We are seeing West Nile virus activity in mosquitoes this year that approaches levels seen during 2002 when Illinois led the nation in cases. This fact should serve as a warning to people to take precautions against mosquito bites.”

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 encephalitis and meningitis, and death are possible. Persons older than 50 years of age have the highest risk of severe disease.

The Henderson County Health Department reported mosquito samples collected in Carman and Oquawka on August 10 and August 11 tested positive for West Nile virus.

To date, 53 counties out of 102 have reported positive test results for West Nile virus in mosquitoes and birds. A list of those counties can be found on the IDPH website.

In 2005, Illinois recorded 252 human cases, of West Nile disease, including 12 deaths.

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 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

idph online home
idph online home

Illinois Department of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
Phone 217-782-4977
Fax 217-782-3987
TTY 800-547-0466
Questions or Comments