SPRINGFIELDA 59-year-old man from Boone County has been diagnosed with West Nile encephalitis, bringing to six the number of humans in Illinois identified this year with the mosquito-borne disease.
The man currently is hospitalized in critical condition, said Doug Beardsley, Boone County Health Department administrator. He said the man became ill July 15 and was hospitalized July 31. Lab tests confirmed the illness and investigators are reviewing the mans travel before the onset of symptoms.
It is hard to say where this individual may have contracted the virus since we do not have a complete travel history, said Beardsley. However, we know the virus is present in many counties in Illinois and everyone who spends time outdoors should take precautions against mosquito bites.
Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director, said the other human cases of West Nile disease identified so far this year are: A 67-year-old man from Jo Daviess County, a 39-year-old Jackson County man, a 14-year-old boy from St. Clair County, a 70-year-old man from Kendall County and a 47-year-old Ford County man.
In addition to the most recent human case, Whitaker said a batch of mosquitoes collected in Jerseyville in Jersey County has tested positive for West Nile virus. This is the first West Nile positive reported in that county since surveillance by state and local public health departments began May 1.
A total of 127 birds, 402 mosquito pools and two horses in 45 counties now have tested positive this year for West Nile virus.
Health officials urged people to continue to take simple, common sense precautions to avoid mosquito bites and protect themselves from West Nile disease. These precautions include:
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 according to label instructions. Consult a physician before using repellents on young children.
Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens. Repair or replace screens that have tears or other openings.
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.
WNV 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. Although illness from West Nile is usually mild and includes fever, headache and body aches, serious illness and death are possible. People older than 50 have the highest risk of severe disease.
In 2003, Illinois recorded 54 West Nile disease human cases, including one death, and in 2002, the state led the nation with 884 cases and 66 deaths.
Additional information about West Nile virus can be found at www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/wnv.htm or people can call the West Nile virus hotline (866-369-9710) Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.