SPRINGFIELD (WSIL) -– The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is reporting the first confirmed human case of West Nile virus in Illinois for 2019. A Chicago resident in his 70s became ill in late July.
“Although the first human case of West Nile virus this year in Illinois has been reported a little later than we typically see, it is important to remember that there is an ongoing risk of disease from a mosquito bite,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “West Nile virus can cause serious illness in some people so it’s important that you take precautions like wearing insect repellent and getting rid of stagnant water around your home.”
Last year, 74 counties in Illinois reported a West Nile virus positive mosquito batch, bird, horse, and/or human case.
Last month, the first mosquito to test positive for West Nile in the southernmost seven counties was found in Massac County.
For the 2018 season, IDPH reported 176 human cases (although human cases are underreported), including 17 deaths.
West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of a Culex pipiens mosquito, commonly called a house mosquito, which has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird.
Common symptoms include fever, nausea, headache and muscle aches. Symptoms may last from a few days to a few weeks. However, four out of five people infected with West Nile virus will not show any symptoms.
In rare cases, severe illness including meningitis, or even death, can occur. People older than 60 and individuals with weakened immune systems are at higher risk for severe illness from West Nile virus.
Precautions to Fight the Bite include practicing the three “R’s” – reduce, repel, and report.