State reports second West Nile fatality

SPRINGFIELD—Illinois has its second fatality this year due to West Nile infection—a 61-year-old woman from suburban Cook County—state public health director Dr. Eric E. Whitaker said.

Whitaker said the woman, who was reported as a case earlier in the month, died Sept. 24 after being hospitalized with West Nile encephalitis.The state’s other West Nile death was a 58-year-old man from DuPage County who died Sept. 1.

In addition to the fatality, Whitaker reported two other West Nile human cases have brought the state’s caseload this year to 42. 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 latest cases were a 64-year-old man from DuPage County, who became ill in mid-September with West Nile encephalitis, was hospitalized and has been discharged; and a 76-year-old woman from Sangamon County, who became ill in late August with West Nile fever, was hospitalized and has been discharged.

Human cases of West Nile disease reported this year have been from the city of Chicago (three), and Adams, Boone, Clinton (two), suburban Cook (nine), DuPage (five), Ford, Fulton, Hancock, Jackson, Jo Daviess, Kane (two), Kendall, LaSalle (four), McLean, Rock Island, Sangamon (two), St. Clair (three) and Will (two) counties.

In addition to the human cases, a total of 222 birds, 1,114 mosquito pools, two horses and one alpaca have been identified this year with West Nile virus.

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 have the highest risk of severe disease.

Additional information about West Nile virus can be found on the department’s Web site at or the department’s West Nile virus hotline (866-369-9710) 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

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