Press Release

September 22 , 2010


First West Nile Virus Related Death Reported in Illinois

West Nile virus threat still urgent

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is reporting the first West Nile virus related death in Illinois for 2010. The DuPage County Health Department confirmed a county resident in her 80s, who was diagnosed with West Nile virus in late August, has died.

“We continue to see West Nile virus activity across Illinois, but we are seeing very high infection rates in mosquitoes in the northeastern part of the state,” said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Damon T. Arnold. “Despite cooler temperatures, the threat of West Nile virus still exists. Senior citizens and people with weakened immune systems are especially vulnerable and need to continue to protect themselves against mosquito bites by using insect repellent or staying indoors.”

Currently, the Illinois Department of Public Health is reporting 14 human cases of West Nile virus in Illinois. The first human case of West Nile virus was reported on August 31 and occurred in a DuPage County woman in her 50s. So far this year, 29 counties have reported mosquito batches, birds or people testing positive for West Nile virus. The first West Nile virus positive results this year were reported on May 13 and included two birds, one from Carroll County and the other from St. Clair County.

In 2009, IDPH reported the first positive mosquito samples on June 1 in Cook County. The Department reported the first human case of West Nile virus in 2009 on August 31. Last year, 36 of the state’s 102 counties reported having a West Nile positive bird, mosquito sample, horse or human case. Five human cases of West Nile disease were reported for 2009, and no deaths.

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.

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:

  • 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 contains DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR 3535, 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.

Public health officials believe that a hot summer increases mosquito activity and the risk of disease from West Nile virus.

Additional information about West Nile virus can be found on the Illinois Department of Public Health’s Web site at

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
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