The Illinois Department of Public Health confirmed the first human West Nile virus case reported in Illinois this year is a Chicago woman in her 70’s who became ill in July.
Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck said the year's first human case serves as a reminder of the need to take precautions.
The mosquitoes that typically carry West Nile virus – commonly called the house mosquito –are not as noticeable as the swarms of floodwater mosquitoes seen with heavy rains, Hasbrouck said in a statement.
House mosquitoes are known to be stealthy biters so Hasbrouck advises Illinois residents to use insect repellent when outside.
A bird collected in Henry County on May 29 and a mosquito sample collected in Madison County on May 30, were the first West Nile virus positive results this year.
To date, West Nile virus was reported in birds, mosquitoes and/or human case in 32 counties. At this time last, year, West Nile virus was reported in 49 counties.
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 that may last from a few days to a few weeks.
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 the home and to take personal precautions to avoid mosquito bites.
Precautions include practicing the three “R’s” – reduce, repel and report.
Reduce exposure by avoiding being outside when mosquitoes are most active, especially between dusk and dawn. Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens.
Eliminate all sources of standing water where mosquitoes can breed. These include bird baths, ponds, flowerpots, wading pools, old tires and any other receptacles.
Repel mosquitoes by wearing 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.
In communities with organized mosquito control programs, report dead birds and areas of stagnant water in roadside ditches, flooded yards and similar locations that may produce mosquitoes.
More information about West Nile virus can be found on the Illinois Department of Public Health’s website at www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/wnv.htm.
Surveillance numbers are updated every Wednesday afternoon http://www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/wnvsurveillance14.htm.