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First West Nile death reported in Illinois this year          Send a link to a friend

Will County man dies of West Nile neuroinvasive disease

[AUG. 25, 2006]  SPRINGFIELD -- A Will County man in his 60s is the first reported death from West Nile virus this year in Illinois. The Will County Health Department reported its first human case of West Nile virus Tuesday and the man died Wednesday morning.

As of Wednesday, the Illinois Department of Public Health had reports of 15 human cases of West Nile virus across the state, and now one death. The DuPage County Health Department reported a woman in her 70s with neuroinvasive disease. There were nine cases of neuroinvasive disease in Cook County, ranging from a 10-year-old boy to a woman in her 80s. Crawford County reported a man in his 50s with neuroinvasive disease, and Kane County reported a woman in her 70s with the disease. A St. Clair County women in her 30s was diagnosed with neuroinvasive disease, while the first West Nile virus case in Illinois this year was a St. Clair County man in his 60s with West Nile fever. Ten more human cases were reported by Thursday.

"The threat of contracting West Nile virus spans across Illinois, and people everywhere need to take precautions, especially older adults who typically suffer more serious effects from the disease," said Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director. "We are seeing West Nile virus activity in mosquitoes this year that approaches levels seen during 2002, when Illinois led the nation in cases. This fact should serve as a warning to people to protect themselves against 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.

By Thursday, 60 counties out of 102 had reported positive test results for West Nile virus in mosquitoes and birds. For a list of those counties, check the Department of Public Health website.

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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.

Additional information about West Nile virus can be found at, or people can call the West Nile Virus Hotline at 866-369-9710 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

[Illinois Department of Public Health news release]


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