First Illinois West Nile Virus Death of 2012 Reported; Also First Case of West Nile in Southern Illinois Reported

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Published on August 22 2012 3:25 pm
Last Updated on July 14 2013 4:07 pm
Written by Greg Sapp

The Illinois Department of Public Health is reporting the first West Nile Virus related death in Illinois for 2012.

A DuPage County man in his 70s, who had underlying health conditions, was diagnosed with West Nile virus earlier this month and died last weekend.

The first human case of West Nile Virus in southern Illinois this year also has been reported.  The Crawford County Health Department in Robinson confirmed that a woman in her 80s tested positive for West Nile Virus.

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck said there are record levels of West Nile Virus activity nationwide and very high mosquito activity in Illinois.

Through the second week in August, 693 cases had been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  That is the highest number of West Nile Virus disease cases reported to CDC through the same period since West Nile Virus was first detected in the US in 1999.  Public Health currently is reporting 21 human cases of West Nile Virus in Illinois.  The first human case of West Nile Virus in Illinois this year was reported on July 24, about a month earlier than most human cases in previous years.  There were 34 human cases reported in Illinois for the entire year in 2011.

West Nile Virus is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that 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 of five infected with the virus will not show any symptoms.  In rare cases, severe illness including meningitis or encephalitis, or even death, can occur.

Taking steps to avoid mosquito bites, including eliminating mosquito breeding sites and wearing mosquito repellent, is recommended by public health officials.