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First human case of West Nile confirmed, and positive bird and mosquito samples found in new counties          Send a link to a friend

[AUG. 2, 2006]  SPRINGFIELD -- A man from St. Clair County is the first Illinois resident this year to be diagnosed with West Nile disease. The St. Clair County man, who is in his 60s, became ill in July and is recovering.

The Illinois Department of Public Health reports significant West Nile activity in mosquitoes and birds in many parts of the state, and now that a human case has been reported, it is important to frequently remind people to protect themselves from mosquito bites.

West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird. Most people with the virus have no clinical symptoms of illness, but some may become ill three to 14 days after the bite of an infected mosquito.

Only about two people out of 10 who are bitten by an infected mosquito will 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. People older than 50 years of age have the highest risk of severe disease.

The latest counties to report a positive bird or mosquito sample are Coles and Saline. A grackle collected on July 19 in Mattoon by the Coles County Health Department tested positive for West Nile virus, as did one sample of mosquitoes collected in Harrisburg by the Egyptian Health Department. A total 35 counties of 102 Illinois counties have tested positive since surveillance for the mosquito-borne disease began on May 1.

In 2005, Illinois recorded 252 human cases of West Nile disease, including 12 deaths.

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Individuals can reduce their risk of West Nile illness and other mosquito-borne diseases by taking these precautions:

  • 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 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 birdbaths, 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.

For additional information about West Nile virus, call the West Nile Virus Hotline at 866-369-9710 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., or visit

[Illinois Department of Public Health news release]

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