Press Release
 September 13, 2013
Melaney Arnold (217) 558-0500

First West Nile Virus Related Death Reported in Illinois

First Human Southern Illinois West Nile Virus Case Also Reported; IDPH Urges Vigilance Protecting against Infection

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is reporting the first death of a person with West Nile virus in Illinois for 2013. An elderly Logan County resident became ill with West Nile virus in mid-August and has died.

The first human case of West Nile virus also was reported in Southern Illinois. The Jefferson County Health Department confirmed a teen tested positive for West Nile Virus after becoming ill in mid-August.

“The first West Nile virus related death this year occurred later than we typically see,” said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck. “Even with the cooler temperatures, until the first hard freeze, you still need to protect yourself against mosquito bites and possible West Nile virus infection.”

The Macon County Health Department is reporting a private laboratory confirmed the West Nile virus related death. IDPH is still conducting West Nile virus confirmatory testing for this case.

To date, West Nile virus positive birds, mosquitoes and/or human cases have been reported in 57 counties. The first human case this year was reported on Wednesday, August 21st in a McHenry County woman in her 50s. Last year the first death was reported August 20, 2012.

For the 2012 season, IDPH reported the second highest number of West Nile virus human cases in state history with 290 residents and 12 deaths. So far this year, nine human cases have been reported.

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

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 practicing the three “R’s” – reduce, repel and report.

  • REDUCE exposure - avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, especially between dusk and dawn.
    • - ­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 where mosquitoes can breed, including water in bird baths, ponds, flowerpots, wading pools, old tires and any other receptacles.
  • REPEL - 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.
  • REPORT - In communities where there are organized mosquito control programs, contact your municipal government to report dead birds and 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 Illinois Department of Public Health’s website at Surveillance numbers are updated every Wednesday afternoon

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Springfield, Illinois 62761
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