The Illinois Department of Public Health announced the first human case of West Nile virus in Kane County.
Cook, Macon, Madison, Will, and Woodford counties have also reported individuals with the virus. According to IDPH, a person in his 90s who lived on the outskirts of Cook County developed symptoms of West Nile disease in early August, and is the first person to die from the virus in 2023.
West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of the Culex mosquito, commonly called the typical mosquito, which 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.
Four out of five people infected with West Nile virus will not develop any symptoms. However, in rare cases, severe disease can occur, including brain infections such as meningitis or encephalitis, paralysis, or even death. People over the age of 50 and immunocompromised individuals are more likely to develop severe disease from West Nile virus. There is no specific treatment for West Nile disease, and there is no vaccine.
IDPH encourages the public to combat sting and take steps to prevent West Nile by exercising the three “R”s – reduce, repel and report:
• Minimize – Ensure that doors and windows are fitted with tight screens. Repair or replace screens with tears or other holes. Try to keep doors and windows closed. Remove or renew all sources of standing water each week where mosquitoes can breed, including water in birdbaths, ponds, flower pots, wading ponds, old tires, and any other containers.
• REPEL – When outdoors, wear shoes, socks, long pants, a light-colored long-sleeved shirt, and use an EPA-registered insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, lemon eucalyptus oil, or IR 3535 according to label directions. . The CDC does not recommend the use of products containing lemon eucalyptus oil or para-menthane-diol on children under 3 years of age. Consult a physician before using repellents on children under 3 years of age.
• Report – Report locations where you have seen standing water for more than a week such as roadside ditches, flooded yards, and similar locations that may breed mosquitoes. Your local health department or city government may be able to add a larvicide to the water, which will kill any mosquito larvae.
Last year, 44 counties in Illinois reported positive results for West Nile mosquitoes, birds, humans and/or horses. So far in 2023, there have been 1,817 batches of positive mosquitoes and 13 positive birds from 42 provinces. This year, the first batch of mosquitoes that tested positive was reported on May 30 in Evanston.
Surveillance for West Nile virus in Illinois includes reporting and investigation of individuals with symptoms of West Nile virus and clinical laboratory testing. Environmental monitoring includes laboratory testing of mosquito populations and dead birds, as well as examination of sick horses. People who notice a sick or dying bird should contact the local health department, which can decide whether to capture the bird for testing.
Additional information about West Nile can be found at: https://kanehealth.com/Pages/West-Nile-Virus.aspx.