First Human Case of West Nile Virus in Illinois for 2020
SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is reporting the first confirmed human case of West Nile virus in Illinois for 2020. A DuPage County resident in her 40s became ill in mid-August.
“While we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, we must also remember to take steps to protect our health from other illnesses,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “In an effort to decrease our risk of contracting COVID-19 from indoor settings, many of us are spending more time outdoors while still socially distancing. As we enjoy the outdoors, we need to protect ourselves from other viruses carried by mosquitoes by wearing insect repellent and getting rid of standing water around our homes.”
Last year, 46 counties in Illinois reported a West Nile virus positive mosquito batch, bird, horse, and/or human case. For the 2019 season, IDPH reported 28 human cases (although human cases are underreported), including one death.
West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of a Culex pipiens mosquito, commonly called a house mosquito, which has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird. 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 even death, can occur. People older than 60 and individuals with weakened immune systems are at higher risk for severe illness from West Nile virus.
Precautions to Fight the Bite include practicing the three “R’s” – reduce, repel, and report.
Monitoring for West Nile virus in Illinois includes laboratory tests for mosquito batches, dead crows, blue jays, robins and other perching birds, as well as testing humans with West Nile virus-like symptoms. People who observe a sick or dying crow, blue jay, robin or other perching bird should contact their local health department, who will determine if the bird will be picked up for testing.
Additional information about West Nile virus can be found on the IDPH website.