June 15, 2007
First human West Nile virus case in Illinois
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Illinois Department of Public Health has confirmed through laboratory tests the first human West Nile virus case in Illinois for 2007. The DuPage County woman is in her 50s and became ill earlier this month.
“Typically we don’t receive reports of human West Nile virus cases in Illinois until July, however, DuPage County has reported positive West Nile virus mosquito samples this year,” said Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, Illinois Department of Public Health Director. “This should serve as a reminder that you need to protect yourself against mosquito bites now.”
Positive mosquito samples reported this year include DuPage County on May 8, Tazewell County on May 17 and Cook County on May 24.
In 2006, the first positive mosquito sample was reported May 24th in DuPage County and the first human case was reported August 1 in St. Clair County. Last year 77 of the state’s 102 counties were found to have a West Nile positive bird, mosquito, horse or human case. A total of 215 human cases of West Nile disease, including 10 deaths, were reported last year in Illinois.
Surveillance for West Nile virus in Illinois began May 1st 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 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 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:
Public health officials believe that a hot summer could increase mosquito activity and the risk of disease from West Nile virus.
Additional information about West Nile virus can be found on the Department’s Web site at www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/wnv.htm or people can call the West Nile Virus Hotline at 866-369-9710 Monday through Friday from 8:00am to 5:00pm.
The Illinois Department of Public Health will send news releases updating West Nile virus activity in the state every Wednesday during the season. Updates throughout the week can be found on the Department Web site.
of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
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