First Human West Nile Death Reported as West Central Counties Confirm Positive Mosquito Pools

By Jeremy Coumbes on October 8, 2020 at 3:02pm

Illinois Department of Public Health Officials have confirmed the first death of a human from West Nile Virus this year, just as area counties in West Central Illinois have confirmed positve mosquito pools.

According to an IDPH release today, a Chicago resident who became ill in mid-September and tested positive for West Nile has died.

IDPH Director Dr. Ngoze Ezike says although we are already into the fall season, the West Nile virus continues to be a risk until the first hard frost.

Greene County Health Department officials confired on Tuesday of this week that a mosquito pool located in Greene County tested positive for West Nile, and a similar pool was discovered in Macoupin County in late September.

According to IDPH, 24 human cases of West Nile virus have currently been reported in Illinois. 

Last year, IDPH reported 28 human cases (although human cases are underreported), including one death.  In 2019, 46 counties in Illinois reported a West Nile virus positive mosquito batch, bird, horse, and/or human case. 

West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito.  Common 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 and immunocompromised individuals are at higher risk for severe illness.

Health officials recommend practicing what they call the three R’s to reduce the chances of mosquito bites.

Reduce exposure by not being outdoors during dusk and dawn hours when mosquitoes are most active. Repel mosquitoes when outdoors including wearing long sleeved clothing and using repellent that contains DEET.

And report any nusances with contribute to the breeding of mosquitoes such as stagnant water in ditches, abandoned pools, un-rimmed tires and similar locations that may produce mosquitoes.