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Cook County Man First To Die From West Nile Virus in 2011

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported that the state's first West Nile fatality in 2011 was a Cook County man in his 60s.

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported the first West Nile virus related fatality in the state this year was a Cook County man in his 60s.

“Although temperatures have been cooler recently, we continue to see West Nile virus activity across Illinois,” stated Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Damon T. Arnold in a press release. “People need to continue to protect themselves against mosquito bites by using insect repellent or staying indoors.”

Health officials did not identify what community the man in his 60s was from.

The first two human cases reported this year were a and a Franklin County man in his 30s. Those cases were reported on Aug. 19.

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

In 2010, Illinois had 61 human cases and four deaths. The cases were spread through 30 of the state's 102 counties. The worst year for West Nile in Illinois was 2002 when there were 884 confirmed cases and 67 deaths.

So far this year, 17 counties have reported mosquito batches, birds or people testing positive for West Nile virus, state health officials said. The first West Nile virus positive results this year were collected on June 8 and included two birds from LaSalle County.

Common West Nile virus 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, state health officials stated. In rare cases, severe illness including meningitis or encephalitis, or even death, can occur.

People older than 50 are at higher risk for severe illness from West Nile Virus.

State health officials said that the best way to prevent West Nile is to reduce the number of mosquitoes around a home and to avoid mosquito bites:

  • 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 contains DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR 3535, 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 visit the Illinois Department of Public Health's web site.

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