68-year-old woman was hospitalized, is now home
The Winnebago County Health Department (WCHD) has reported a second case of West Nile disease confirmed in Winnebago County. The new case is a 68-year-old woman who began having symptoms Sept. 11.
The woman was hospitalized for two days and was discharged. She is home and is slowly recuperating.
The first human case of West Nile virus disease in Winnebago County this season was a 66-year-old woman. That case was confirmed Sept. 15. The 66-year-old woman was also hospitalized, and is home recuperating. Both of the cases have been the more severe neuroinvasive form of West Nile disease.
Winnebago County is one of 11 counties in Illinois reporting human cases of West Nile disease. Illinois has, to date, reported 169 cases with the greatest concentration in Chicago, suburban Cook County and DuPage County (comprising 136 cases).
It is important to remember that this is the time of year when there is the greatest risk of contracting a West Nile virus (WNV) infection, said Mike Bacon, WCHD Public Health director. West Nile virus is transmitted by the bite of a mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding off of an infected bird. Only two out of 10 people bitten by an infected mosquito will experience noticeable symptoms.
Symptoms include fever, headache, body aches, (West Nile fever), but occasionally, more serious complications arise from involvement of the central nervous system. This more severe form of the disease (neuroinvasive) can include inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), stiff neck, stupor, disorientation, tremors, convulsions, paralysis, coma or death.
It should be noted that the odds of being bitten by an infected mosquito and developing serious or life-threatening symptoms are minimal, but nevertheless it is important to follow recommended precautions because of the potential seriousness of becoming infected. The below-listed personal protective measures have been found to significantly reduce the potential to contract West Nile virus.
personal/home precautions to prevent mosquito-borne encephalitis
Alert health authorities to potential mosquito breeding sites in your area.
Avoid outdoor activities in the early morning and at dusk. Whenever outdoors between dusk and dawn, wear shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Loose-fitting, light-colored clothing is best.
Apply insect repellent to exposed skin. An effective repellent will contain 25 to 35 percent DEET. Spray the repellent not only on exposed skin but also on clothing. Consult a physician before using repellents on very young children.
Drain standing water in your yard at least once a week. Pour water from mosquito breeding sites, such as flower pots, pet bowls, clogged rain gutters, swimming pool covers, boats, discarded tires, buckets, barrels, cans, or similar items in which mosquitoes can lay eggs. For permanent standing pools of water, mosquito larvicide can be used. The larvicide can be purchased from many retail stores selling garden supplies. Please follow the manufacturers recommendations for use.
Check screens on porches and patios for tears and other openings.
The WCHD has opened a phone line for residents to report the location and number of dead crows or blue jays, according to Larry Swacina, Environmental Health director. The report line number is (815) 720-4245.
Swacina added: After calling in a report of a dead bird, please dispose of the bird yourself. Remember, dead birds cannot spread West Nile virus, but it is advised to avoid bare-handed contact with dead birds and other animals since they carry a variety of germs. Please use a shovel, gloves or double-plastic bags to place the carcass in a garbage bag or can.
WCHD also has opened a WNV Information line for residents who have questions or wish to speak to a health professional. That number is (815) 720-4240. When calling the hotline to report dead crows or blue jays, please leave the address, ZIP code, town and number of dead birds found. To date, Winnebago County, has reported eight mosquito pools and 15 WNV positive birds.
Based on nationwide experience over the previous six years of WNV presence in the United States, the peak period for WNV transmission, particularly to humans, has been from the end of August through the middle of September. It is important to keep in mind this is influenced by many environmental factors that affect the viral amplification cycle (e.g., weather, host and vector densities, immune status and other characteristics).
For more information on West Nile virus, visit the following Web sites:
Illinois Department of Public Health at www.idph.state.il.us;
Center for Disease Control at www.cdc.gov.ncidod/dvbid/westnile/index.htm; and
Winnebago County Health Department at www.wchd.org.
From the Oct. 12-18, 2005, issue