Two human West Nile cases found

SPRINGFIELD—A dead blue jay collected July 28 in Hull in Pike County has tested positive for West Nile virus, bringing to 40 the number of Illinois counties with confirmed positives this year for the mosquito-borne disease.

Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director, said the state now has counted two humans, 108 birds and 219 mosquito pools with West Nile virus since surveillance by the state and local health departments began May 1.

The human cases are a 67-year-old man from Jo Daviess County with West Nile encephalitis and a 39-year-old man from Jackson County with West Nile fever.

In 2003, Illinois counted 54 human cases of West Nile disease, including one fatality, in 77 of the state’s 102 counties reported. In 2002, the state led the nation with 884 human cases and 66 deaths, and West Nile activity was reported in 100 of 102 counties.

Surveillance for West Nile virus includes collecting dead crows and blue jays. Citizens who observe a sick or dying crow or blue jay should contact their local health department, which will determine whether the bird is to be picked up for testing.

Whitaker said individuals can reduce their risk of West Nile disease 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 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, particularly for 50 or people who are immunosuppressed.

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

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