August 11, 2008
First human West Nile virus case reported in Illinois
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Illinois Department of Public Health has confirmed through laboratory tests the first human West Nile virus case reported in Illinois for 2008. The Kane County Health Department reported a woman in her 20s with onset of illness in late July. The woman had recent travel so the infection could have been acquired in Illinois or other states.
“Human cases of West Nile virus in Illinois should remind people to protect themselves against mosquitoes by wearing insect repellent and by trying to reduce any standing water around their homes. Every year people become sick with West Nile virus, but it is something that can easily be prevented by taking a few simple precautions,” said Dr. Damon T. Arnold, Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Kane County is one of 12 counties reporting mosquitoes, birds and/or horses positive for West Nile virus. The other counties include Adams, Cook, DuPage, Jackson, Lee, Macon, Madison, St. Clair, Tazewell, Whiteside and Winnebago.
Last year, 46 of the state’s 102 counties were found to have a West Nile positive bird, mosquito, horse or human case. A total of 101 human cases of West Nile disease, including four deaths, were reported last year in Illinois.
Surveillance for West Nile virus in Illinois began on May 1 and includes laboratory tests on mosquitoes, dead crows, blue jays, robins and other perching birds as well as the testing of sick horses and humans with West Nile-like disease symptoms. Citizens who observe a sick or dying crow, blue jay, robin or other perching bird should contact their local health department, which will determine if the bird is to be picked up for testing.
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 15 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 people in 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.
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:
Public health officials believe that a hot summer could increase mosquito activity and the risk of disease from West Nile virus.
Department recommendations about mosquito control after flooding may be found at http://www.ready.illinois.gov/mosquitomemo.pdf.
Additional information about West Nile virus can be found on the Department’s Web site at www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/wnv.htm.
of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
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