Press Release

August 20 , 2012
Sabrina L. Miller (312) 814-8194

First West Nile Virus Related Death Reported in Illinois

First human Southern Illinois West Nile Virus Case Also Reported; IDPH Urges Vigilance Protecting against Infection

CHICAGO – The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is reporting the first West Nile virus related death in Illinois for 2012. A DuPage County man in his 70s, who had underlying health conditions, was diagnosed with West Nile virus earlier this month and died last weekend.

The first human case of West Nile virus also was reported in Southern Illinois. The Crawford County Health Department confirmed that a woman in her 80s tested positive for West Nile Virus.

“This year there are record levels of West Nile virus activity nationwide and very high mosquito activity in Illinois,” said IDPH Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck. “We urge people to continue to protect themselves by following the three R’s – reduce exposure to mosquitoes, repel them by wearing insect repellent, and report areas where mosquitoes typically breed.”

Through the second week in August, 693 cases had been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That is the highest number of West Nile virus disease cases reported to CDC through the same period since West Nile virus was first detected in the U.S. in 1999. More than 80 percent of the cases have been reported from six states (Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and California).

IDPH currently is reporting 21 human cases of West Nile virus in Illinois. The first human case of West Nile virus was reported on July 24—about a month earlier than most human cases in previous years. There were 34 human cases for the entire year in 2011.

So far this year, 38 counties have reported mosquito batches, birds or people testing positive for West Nile virus. The first West Nile Virus positive bird, a crow, was collected on May 16 in Chicago, and IDPH and DuPage County Health Department environmental health staff collected positive mosquito samples on May 17, 2012 from Lemont and Norridge in Cook County, and Clarendon Hills, Hinsdale, Lisle, Westmont and Woodridge in DuPage County.

West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird. Common West Nile virus symptoms include fever, nausea, headache and muscle aches. Symptoms may last from a few days to a few weeks. However, four out of five people infected with West Nile virus will not show any symptoms. In rare cases, severe illness including meningitis or encephalitis, or even death, can occur. People older than 50 are at higher risk for severe illness from West Nile virus.

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 practicing the three "R's" – reduce, repel and report.

  • REDUCE exposure - avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, especially between dusk and dawn.
      • 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 where mosquitoes can breed, including water in bird baths, ponds, flowerpots, wading pools, old tires and any other receptacles.
  • REPEL - 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.
  • REPORT - In communities where there are organized mosquito control programs, contact your municipal government to report dead birds and 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 IDPH website at Surveillance numbers are updated on the IDPH website 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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