Press Release

July 29, 2005


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – A 55-year-old man from Kane County and a 55-year-old man from suburban Cook County are the first Illinois residents this year to be diagnosed with West Nile disease, Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director, today announced.

Dr. Whitaker said the Kane County man became ill in mid-July and is hospitalized with West Nile encephalitis and the Cook County man, who reported some travel out-of-state, first experienced symptoms in late June and is hospitalized with West Nile disease.  

“We are seeing significant West Nile activity in mosquitoes and birds in many parts of the state and, in particular, northeastern Illinois,” Dr. Whitaker said. “Now that human cases have been reported, it is important to remind people that they need to protect themselves from 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 latest counties to report a positive mosquito or bird sample are Macoupin and Macon.   A bird sample collected on July 25 in Decatur by the Macon County Health Department tested positive for West Nile virus, as did mosquito samples collected July 28 in Palmyra by the Macoupin County Health Department.    A total of 41 birds and 290 mosquito samples from 24 counties have tested positive 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.  

Dr. Whitaker said 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 a.m. to 5 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
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