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||Last Updated: Apr 20, 2011 - 9:38:09 AM
Aug 31 (foodconsumer.org) - Three new human cases of West Nile virus (WNV) were reported in the city of Chicago this week, pushing the total of human cases in the city to 11 for 2006, Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) officials announced on Aug 29.
The first new case of West Nile virus occurred to a 42-year-old man from the Northwest Side's Edison Park neighborhood who has had West Nile fever and is recovering. The second case is a 33-year-old woman from the South Side's Roseland neighborhood who came down with encephalitis on August 22 and remains hospitalized. The third case involves a 70-year-old man from the South Side's West Pullman neighborhood who became ill on Aug. 22 and remains hospitalized with encephalitis.
"These cases underscore the seriousness of the West Nile virus," stated CDPH commissioner Terry Mason, MD. "I call upon all Chicagoans to take common sense precautions to avoid mosquito bites."
West Nile virus infections in humans experts believe are caused by mosquito bites, but it is not immediately clear where these three individuals got infected by the WNV.
The city health agency said the Northern House mosquito, Culex pipiens, is the primary carrier of West Nile virus. This mosquito species thrives in water with high organic content, such as that found in catch basins (storm sewers). Consequently, a hot, dry summer (like the current one) increases the risk of WNV infection, exactly the opposite of what many people believe.
The city health officials said more West Nile virus cases are under investigation and new cases may be announced within days.
Meanwhile, the second death from West Nile virus in the state of Illinois has been confirmed, the Illinois Department of Public Health cited the Bond County Health Department as reporting on Aug 29.
The death case of West Nile virus was reported from Bond County. The man, in his 80's died from neuroinvasive disease resulting from the WNV infection.
A Will County man who died August 23 was the state's first reported human West Nile virus death this year.
The total number of human cases of West Nile virus infections in the state of Illinois has reached 39 as of August 29, compared to 25 as of Aug 25. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, the counties where human cases of the WNV have been reported include Bond County (1). Cook County (Chicago) (9), Cook County (Suburban) (15), Crawford County (1), PuPage County (6), Kane County (1), Madison County (1), Rock Island County (1), Sangamon County (1), St. Clair County (2), and Will County (1). In total, 61 counties out of 102 have reported West Nile virus activity in humans and or animals.
"This is the riskiest time of year for West Nile virus. Mosquitoes that carry the virus peak around late summer so everybody needs to be vigilant against mosquito bites, the season is not over," said Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director.
Most people with the West Nile virus have no clinical symptoms of illness, but some who are destined to become ill may develop an illness three to 14 days after the bite of an infected mosquito.
Only about 20 percent of infected people 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 and those with compromised immunosystems have the highest risk of severe disease.
Health officials said individuals can reduce their risk of West Nile virus infections and other mosquito-borne diseases if they 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 D EET, p icaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus according to label instructions," the state health agency states. "Consult a physician before using repellents on infants."
West Nile Virus: What You Need To Know
West Nile Virus: What You Need To Know (2)
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