State records first death in 2020 related to West Nile virus

The first human West Nile virus-related death in Illinois for 2020 has been confirmed.

The Illinois Department of Public Health, IDPH, on Thursday, Oct. 8, reported that it had confirmed the death.

The disease claimed the life of a Chicago resident who became ill in mid-September and tested positive for West Nile virus.

“Although we are already into fall, West Nile virus remains a risk until the first hard frost,” IDPH director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in a news release. 

“It’s important for everyone to continue taking precautions such as using insect repellent, wearing long sleeve shirts and pants, and staying indoors between dusk and dawn.”

As of Oct. 8, 24 human cases of West Nile virus had 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.

Public health officials said that steps which people can take to protect themselves include:

Reducing, eliminating or refreshing all sources of standing water each week.

When outdoors, wear shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, and apply insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR 3535.

Reporting locations where water is seen sitting stagnant for more than a week to local public health or government officials.

The Gazette-Democrat

112 Lafayette St.
Anna, Illinois 62906
Office Number: (618) 833-2158

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