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October 17, 2007

13 additional human cases of West Nile virus bring the total in Illinois to 81
Two new counties reporting West Nile virus in birds

SPRINGFIELD - The Illinois Department of Public Health is reporting today thirteen additional human cases of West Nile virus bringing this year’s total in Illinois to 81.  Additional cases include:

• Two Cook County women in their 50’s became ill in early September
• Cook County woman in her 30’s became ill in late September
• Cook County man in his 40’s became ill in late September
• Cook County man in his 60’s became ill in late September
• Kane County woman in her 40’s became ill in early September
• Kane County man in his 60’s became ill in late September
• Kane County man in his 40’s became ill in late September
• Kane County man in his 30’s became ill in late August
• Lake County woman in her 40’s became ill in late September
• Saline County woman in her 30’s became ill in mid August
• Wabash County man in his 60’s became ill in early October
• Will County woman in her 50’s became ill in late September

 “Although we’re getting into fall and cooler temperatures, we’re not out of the woods regarding the risk of West Nile virus,” said Dr. Damon T. Arnold, state public health director.  Mosquitoes are still present until freezing temperatures are consistent, so we must be cautious and protect ourselves from mosquito bites.”

At this time last year the Illinois Department of Public Health had received reports of 215 human cases of West Nile virus compared with 81 human cases so far this year.  There have also been four deaths, in Illinois, this year. 

A total of 43 counties in Illinois have reported mosquito samples, birds, horses or humans positive for West Nile virus, so far this year.        

The following county health departments are reporting their first West Nile virus positive samples for 2007.

County Collection Date Sample Type Collection Location
Livingston September 28 Crow Streator
Montgomery October 10 House Finch Hillsboro

In 2006, the first positive mosquito sample was reported May 24th in DuPage County and the first human case was reported August 1 in St. Clair County.  Last year 77 of the state’s 102 counties were found to have a West Nile positive bird, mosquito, horse or human case.  A total of 215 human cases of West Nile disease, including 10 deaths, were reported last year in Illinois.

Surveillance for West Nile virus in Illinois began May 1st and includes laboratory tests on mosquitoes, dead crows, blue jays, robins and other perching birds as well as the testing of sick horses and humans with West Nile-like disease symptoms.  Citizens who observe a sick or dying crow, blue jay, robin or other perching bird should contact their local health department, which will determine if the bird is to be picked up for testing.

West Nile virus 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 persons 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.  Persons older than 50 years of age have the highest risk of severe disease.

The best way to prevent West Nile disease or any other mosquito-borne illness is to reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home and to take personal precautions to avoid mosquito bites.  Precautions include:
• Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, especially between dusk and dawn.  Use prevention methods whenever mosquitoes are present.

• 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 flowerpots, clogged roof gutters, old tires and any other receptacles.  Change water in bird baths weekly.  Properly maintain wading pools and stock ornamental ponds with fish.  Cover rain barrels with 16 mesh wire screen.  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.

Additional information about West Nile virus can be found on the Department’s Web site at www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/wnv.htm 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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