The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is reporting the first West Nile virus related death in Illinois for 2011. A Cook County man in his 60s, who had underlying health conditions, was diagnosed with West Nile virus in August and died earlier this month.
“Although temperatures have been cooler recently, we continue to see West Nile virus activity across Illinois,” said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Damon T. Arnold. “People 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 eight human cases of West Nile virus in Illinois. The first human cases of West Nile virus were reported on August 19 and occurred in a Cook County man in his 80s and a Franklin County man in his 30s.
So far this year, 17 counties have reported mosquito batches, birds or people testing positive for West Nile virus. The first West Nile virus positive results this year were collected on June 8 and included two birds from LaSalle County.
Locally Jeff Houska, Shelby County Health Department Director of Environmental Health Services said the calls to that department regarding West Nile have been down this year.
“We have tested one bird found here in Shelby County and that test was negative,” said Houska. “There have been two positive tests in Central Illinois, one in Macon County and one in Champaign County.”
Houska said the first year this disease showed up there were 800+ cases in Illinois. He said so far this year there have been 8 cases of humans and the one fatality.
In 2010, the first positive mosquito samples were collected on June 3 in Gallatin County. Last year, 30 of the state’s 102 counties were found to have a West Nile positive bird, mosquito, horse or human case. A total of 61 human cases of West Nile disease, including four deaths, were reported in Illinois last year. The first human case was reported on August 31 and the West Nile virus related death was reported on September 22.
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:
* Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, especially between dusk and dawn.
* When outdoors, 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 www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/wnv.htm.