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

West Nile virus claims two more lives in Illinois
By Ben Wasserman
Sep 20, 2006, 14:12

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West Nile virus claims two more lives in Illinois

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Two more deaths from West Nile virus were reported on Sept. 19 to The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), according to the state health agency. A man in his 70's and a woman in her 60's died of neuroinvasive disease and complications from West Nile virus respectively.

Six other people have died earlier this year from West Nile virus, a woman in her 80's from Chicago, 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, a DuPage County woman in her 80's, and a Sangamon county man in his 90's. In comparison, 12 people died from West Nile virus in 2005 in the state of Illinois.

As of Spet. 19, a total of 150 human cases of West Nile virus for the year 2006 have been reported to IDPH including 15 new cases reported this week. The new cases were reported from Chicago (1), Cook County (4), DuPage County (1), Jefferson County (1), Kane County (1), Kendall County (2), Lake County (1), and Will County (3). In 2005, 252 people suffered from West Nile virus.

The counties hit hardest by West Nile virus include Chicago (22), Cook County (Suburban, 47), DuPage County (29), Lake County (9), and Will County (15). Human cases of West Nile virus have been reported also from Adams (1), Bond (1), Crawford (1), Dekalb (1), Effingham (1) Jefferson (2), Jo Daviess (1), Kane (2), Kendall (2), Macoupin (1), Madison (1), McHenry (2), Morgan (1), Moultrie (1), Ogle (1), Richland (1), Rock Island (1), Sangamon (3), St. Clair (2), Stephenson (1), and Woodford (1). In 2005, 21 counties reported human cases of West Nile virus compared to 25 this year.

"Despite cooler temperatures, the West Nile season is not over. Mosquitoes are still about and everyone should protect themselves from being bitten," said Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director.

West Nile virus infections cause an illness in only about two persons out of 10. Illness from West Nile virus 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 have the highest risk of severe disease, according to the IDPH.

West Nile virus is mainly transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that gets infected with 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, IDPH says in a news release.

McDonough is the newest county reporting positive West Nile bird sample. On September 7, IDPH cited the McDonough County Health Department as reporting a positive House Finch was collected, in Macomb.

To date, 69 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 advise Illinois residents to take the following measures to prevent against West Nile virus infections.

* 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, readers may the IDPH's Web site at or 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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