Press Release

August 24, 2005


Director urges Illinoisans to take precautions

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director, today announced $200,000 in additional funding for West Nile virus prevention efforts.

“We are providing this additional money to those counties in the state with human cases to help them strengthen their prevention efforts,” said Dr. Whitaker. “All but one of the 36 human cases this season has occurred in the northeastern part of the state and we are particularly concerned about that area.”

The following local health departments received funding:

  • Chicago Department of Public Health, $78,600
  • Cook County Department of Public Health, $67,300 (The money for Cook County will be distributed to certified local health departments within their jurisdiction that have reported human cases.)
  • DuPage County Health Department, $24,500
  • Kane County Health Department, $11,000
  • Peoria City/County Health Department, $5,000
  • Will County Health Department, $13, 600

Additional funding may be available in the future for counties that report human cases.

The announcement was made during a news conference in Chicago, where Dr. Whitaker discussed this year’s West Nile season.

“We have been closely monitoring the situation in northeastern Illinois,” Dr. Whitaker said. “While everyone in Illinois should be taking personal precautions to prevent West Nile virus disease, people who live in the northeastern part of the state need to take every measure possible to protect themselves. If there ever was a time to be wearing repellent, this is it.”

While West Nile activity in humans has been concentrated in the northeastern part of the state, Dr. Whitaker noted the situation could change. “We still have at least a couple of months of warm weather left this year and West Nile virus activity could become more widespread. It’s important that surveillance efforts continue in the rest of the state and that all Illinois residents take personal precautions.”

Because West Nile virus activity in Culex mosquitoes increases during hot weather, personal protection against mosquitoes is particularly important during August and September. 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.

The 36 cases of West Nile disease identified so far this year have occurred in the following areas: Chicago (7), and suburban Cook County (20), DuPage (3), Kane (4), Peoria (1) and Will (1) counties.

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.

“Persons experiencing these symptoms should seek medical attention,” Dr. Whitaker said.

In addition to the 36 humans, 150 birds, 1,215 mosquito samples, one horse and one llama from 35 counties have tested positive for West Nile virus 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.

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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