SPRINGFIELDIllinois has its first fatality from West Nile diseasea 58-year-old man from DuPage County who died Sept. 1said State Public Health Director Dr. Eric E. Whitaker.
Also, West Nile disease cases have been identified in Fulton and Hancock counties, bringing to 22 the number of cases of the mosquito-borne disease reported in Illinois this year.
The states other human cases of West Nile disease have been from the city of Chicago, and Boone, Clinton (2), suburban Cook (2), DuPage (2), Ford, Jackson, Jo Daviess, Kendall, LaSalle, McLean, Rock Island, Sangamon, St. Clair (2) and Will (2) counties.
In addition to the human cases, a total of 181 birds, 802 mosquito pools, two horses and one alpaca have been identified with West Nile virus this year.
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. The epicenter of the disease appears to be further west this year.
Most mosquito-borne infections in Illinois occur in August and September, so Whitaker again reminded people to continue to take simple, common sense precautions to avoid mosquito bites and protect themselves from West Nile disease.
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. Illness from West Nile 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.
Additional information about West Nile virus can be found on the public health Web site 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.