|More Illinois counties find West Nile virus in mosquitoes|
August 22 announced that three more counties reported West Nile virus positive mosquito samples, but no new human cases were reported in the state.
West Nile virus positive mosquito samples were found in Benton in Franklin County (1 sample) on August 14, in Shawneetown in Gallatin on August 16 (3) and in Decatur in Macon County (1) on July 30.
So far this year, 11 people have suffered from mosquito-borne West Nile virus in Illinois. An Ogle County man, 77, died August 8 after becoming ill from West Nile virus earlier. The first case for 2007 was reported in DuPage County on June 15.
“People need to remain vigilant and take preventive measures against mosquito bites,” said Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director. “We still may have another month of hot summer temperatures and possibly more warm weather in the fall.”
West virus activity in mosquitoes, birds or humans has been reported this year in a total of 17 Illinois counties including Cook, DuPage, Franklin, Gallatin, Jackson, Kane, Lake, Lee, Macon, Macoupin, Madison, Ogle, Pike, Saline, Sangamon, St. Clair and Tazewell, the state health agency said in its announcement.
Last year, 77 out of 102 counties in the state reported a West Nile positive bird, mosquito, horse or human case. A total of 215 human cases of West Nile illness, resulting in 10 deaths, were reported last year in the state.
"Senior citizens and those individuals with weak immune systems are especially vulnerable so I want to stress the importance of taking the necessary precautions to protect yourself against mosquito bites," Dr. Whitaker earlier.
"There are preventive actions you can take to avoid getting West Nile virus such as wearing insect repellent with DEET and I encourage everyone who goes outside, especially from dusk to dawn, to take this preventive measure.”
The state health agency says that West Nile is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has been infected by feeding on an infected bird. Avoiding mosquito bites is what one needs to do to prevent West Nile virus.
Eighty percent of people who are infected do not show any symptoms. But about 20 percent experience symptoms including fever, headache and body aches. In serious cases, the virus results in encephalitis and meningitis and even death.
People who are older than 50 years of age and those whose immune systems are compromised are at the highest risk of severe implications by the West Nile virus.
To avoid mosquitoes, the IDPH suggest the following:
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.