The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has confirmed the first human case of West Nile virus in Illinois for 2018.
Director Nirav Shah emphasized that West Nile virus can cause serious illness in some people; people older than 60 and individuals with weakened immune systems are at higher risk for severe illness from West Nile virus.
Common symptoms of West Nile virus 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.
Director Shah encouraged Illinois residents to get serious about taking precautions, such as wearing insect repellent and eliminating stagnant water around your home. Specifically, precautions to “Fight the Bite” include practicing the three “R’s”: reduce, repel, and report.
REDUCE: Ways to reduce potentially affected mosquitoes include making certain doors and windows have tight-fitting screens and repairing or replacing screens that have tears or other openings. Residents are also encouraged to attempt to keep doors and windows shut. Also, experts say to eliminate, or refresh each week, all sources of standing water where mosquitoes can breed, including water in bird baths, ponds, flowerpots, wading pools, old tires, and any other containers.
REPEL: Ways to repel potentially affected mosquitoes when outdoors includes wearing shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, and applying insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR 3535. However, residents should consult a physician before using repellents on infants.
REPORT: Locations where you see water sitting stagnant for more than a week such as roadside ditches, flooded yards, and similar locations that may produce mosquitoes. The local health department or city government may be able to add larvicide to the water, which will kill any mosquito eggs.
Additional information about West Nile virus can be found on the IDPH website.
Last year, 63 counties in Illinois reported a West Nile virus-positive mosquito batch, bird and/or human case. For the 2017 season, IDPH reported 90 human cases (although human cases are underreported), including eight deaths.