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F.ood & H.ealth : B.iological A.gents Last Updated: Nov 12th, 2006 - 20:38:00

114 Illinoisans infected with West Nile virus so far this year
By Ben Wasserman
Sep 13, 2006, 19:22

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Two more human deaths from West Nile virus (WNV) were reported to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), the state health agency announced on Sept. 12.

A DuPage County woman in her 80's died due to neuroinvasive disease and a Sangamon county man in his 90's, previously reported to have a West Nile infection has died.

Three other people also have died this year from West Nile virus, a man in his 60's from Will County, a man in his 80's from Bond County and a woman in her 90's from Cook County.

Since Sept. 7, a total of nineteen new human cases of West Nile virus have been reported to IDPH, bringing the total this year to 114. The new cases were reported from Cook County (5), DuPage (5), Lake County (1), Macoupin County (1), Mchenry County (2), Stephenson County (1), and Will County (4).

Douglas County has become the newest county reporting positive West Nile virus bird sample. The human death from the WNV is also a new report in the County said the state health agency. The Douglas County Health Department reported a positive crow was collected on September 6 in Tuscola.

"Despite the cooler temperatures, we're still seeing an increase of West Nile virus cases. It's not uncommon, since we usually see a peak during late summer. Make sure you protect yourselves and encourage your loved ones to take precaution against mosquito bites," said Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director.

According to the IDPH, West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird.

West Nile deaths are rare. Most people with the virus don't even show any clinical symptoms of illness. However, some with their immunosystems compromised may become ill three to 14 days after the bite of an infected mosquito, the IDPH says.

Overall, only about two persons out of 10 who are bitten by an infected mosquito will experience any illness. Illness from West Nile disease is usually mild and includes fever, headache and body aches, but serious illness, such as encephalitis and meningitis, and death are possible. Persons older than 50 years of age infected with the West Nile virus may have the highest risk of a severe disease.

"To date, 65 counties out of 102 have reported positive test results for West Nile virus in mosquitoes, birds and horses. A list of those counties can be found on the IDPH website," the IDPH said on its web site.

The IDPH said individuals can reduce their risk of West Nile illness 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, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus according to label instructions. Consult a physician before using repellents on infants.

* Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens. Repair or replace screens that have tears or other openings. Try to keep doors and windows shut, especially at night.

* 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. In communities where there are organized mosquito control programs, contact your municipal government to report areas of stagnant water in roadside ditches, flooded yards and similar locations that may produce mosquitoes.

For more information about West Nile virus, visit the Department's Web site at or people can call the West Nile Virus Hotline at 866-369-9710 Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m

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