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Food & Health : Biological Agents Last Updated: Apr 20, 2011 - 9:38:09 AM

West Nile infects 39, kills 4 people in Illinois this year
By Sue Mueller
Sep 26, 2007 - 8:05:13 PM

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THURSDAY September 27, 2007 ( -- The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) on Wednesday annouced 14 additional human cases including one death from mosquito-borne West Nile virus, which were reported to the agency last week, bringing the total to 48 in the state for 2007.

The death case, the fourth for this year from West Nile virus, involved a woman in her 80's in Gallatin County. She became ill in early September and died on September 12.

The human cases reported last week include:

    * McHenry County man in his 30's became ill in mid-September
    * McHenry County man in his 20's became ill in early September
    * LaSalle County man in his 30's became ill in late August
    * DuPage County man in his 40's became ill in early September
    * DuPage County woman in her 40's became ill in mid August
    * DuPage County woman in her 30's became ill in early September
    * Cook County man in his 70's became ill in mid September
    * Cook County woman in her 30's became ill in late August
    * Will County man in his 60's became ill in early September
    * Whiteside County man in his 50's became ill in early September
    * St. Clair County women in her 30's became ill in mid September
    * Rock Island County man in his 50's became ill in early September
    * Woodford County woman in her 60's became ill in early September

The state health agency did not say if they got infected through a mosquito bite.  It is unknown whether they have recovered from West Nile virus.

Iroquois and Stephenson are the two counties where West Nile virus was found in birds for the first time this year.  A total of 39 counties in Illinois have reported West Nile virus in mosquito samples, birds or humans so far this year.

Among the total of 39 counties positive for West Nile virus in mosquitoes, birds, or humans, 37 reported early include Warren, Monroe, Rock Island, 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, Woodford, McLean, Vermilion, and Will counties.

"We're experiencing cooler temperatures, but West Nile virus season is not over. Take time to prepare when you go outside to avoid mosquito bites. Wear insect repellent and avoid standing water which is a breeding ground for mosquitoes," said Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director.

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.   

"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.

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