The first case of West Nile virus in DeKalb County has been reported to the county health department. A 59-year-old male county resident was diagnosed recently, a department spokesperson said.
“This is not unexpected,” said Jane Lux, Public Health Administrator at the DeKalb County Health Department, “due to the fact that there have been cases diagnosed throughout Illinois and the United States, and we know that mosquitoes in our area are infected.”
The Illinois Department of Public Health has reported more than 20 human cases of West Nile virus in the state. One person, a 70-year-old DuPage County resident, has died as a result of the virus.
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— according to the IDPH website. There were 34 human cases for the entire year in 2011.
So far this year, 38 counties have reported mosquito batches, birds or people testing positive for West Nile virus. The first West Nile Virus positive bird, a crow, was collected on May 16 in Chicago. IDPH and DuPage County Health Department staff collected positive mosquito samples on May 17 in Cook and DuPage counties.
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. Persons older than 50 years of age have the highest risk of severe disease.
“The most effective way to prevent you or your family from being infected is to reduce the chances of being bitten by mosquitoes” says Greg Maurice, Director of the Environmental Health Division of the DeKalb County Health Department. “This includes eliminating standing water from around your house and property where mosquitoes breed and hatch, and using mosquito repellent when outside.”
Maurice offered these tips to avoid infection:
- 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.
- Change water in birdbaths weekly. Properly maintain wading pools and stock ornamental ponds with fish. Turn over any buckets, garbage cans, or other containers that collect water.