Wednesday September 5, 2007 (Foodconsumer.org) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today announced five more countries reported West Nile virus activity in birds and mosquitoes and five more people in the state were diagnosed with West Nile virus, bringing the total for 2007 to 19.
The newly reported cases include a teenage boy in Bureau County who became sick in mid-August, a DuPage County man in his 30’s who became ill in mid-August, a Kane County man in his 20’s who became sick in early July, a McHenry County man in his 30’s who became ill in late August and a Sangamon County woman in her 70’s who became ill in mid-August.
The first human case for 2007 was reported in DuPage County on June 15, according to the IDPH. An Ogle County man, 77, died August 8 after becoming ill from West Nile virus earlier. 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.
“Although it is after Labor Day and many summer activities, like swimming, are winding down, late summer is the peak for the house mosquito and this is the riskiest time of the year for West Nile virus,” said Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director. “Don’t let your guard down. Make sure to take precautions against mosquito bites when you go outside.”
Dr. Whitaker advised residents to wear protection against the mosquito-borne West Nile virus infection. "West Nile virus can cause illness, from mild to severe, and even death in some cases, so people need to remember to wear insect repellent with DEET and protect themselves when outdoors." he said earlier.
The five counties where West Nile virus positive birds or mosquitoes were reported between August 27 and 30 for the first time this year include Clinton, LaSalle, Morgan, Peoria and Richland counties.
So far this year, a total of 31 counties in Illinois have reported mosquito samples, birds or humans positive for West Nile virus including Jackson, Kane, Lake, LaSalle, Lee, Macon, Marion, Macoupin, Madison, McHenry, Mg Bureau, Champaign, Clinton, Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, Franklin, Gallorgan, Ogle, Peoria, Pike, Richland, Saline, Sangamon, St. Clair, Tazewell, White, Whiteside, Winnebago and Woodford counties.
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.
"People need to remain vigilant and take preventive measures against mosquito bites," Dr. Whitaker said earlier. "We still may have another month of hot summer temperatures and possibly more warm weather in the fall."
"Senior citizens and those individuals with weak immune systems are especially vulnerable so I want to stress the importance of taking the necessary precautions to protect yourself against mosquito bites," Dr. Whitaker said.
The state health agency says that West Nile is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has been infected by feeding on an infected bird. Avoiding mosquito bites is what one needs to do to prevent West Nile virus.
Eighty percent of people who are infected do not show any symptoms. But about 20 percent experience symptoms including fever, headache and body aches. In serious cases, the virus results in encephalitis and meningitis and even death.
People who are older than 50 years of age and those whose immune systems are compromised are at the highest risk of severe implications by the West Nile virus.
To avoid mosquitoes, the IDPH suggests the following:
Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, especially between dusk and dawn. Use prevention methods whenever mosquitoes are present.
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.