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First West Nile Virus Death in Cook County

The first human death reported in the southern district of Cook County was reported by the Cook County Department of Health on Sept. 12.

The first death related to West Nile virus in Cook County this year occurred in the southern district of the county, the Cook County Department of Public Health announced on Sept. 12. There have been 58 human cases, 365 pools of water with the virus and seven infected birds, the CCDPH stated.

The announcement comes during , the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in August.

In Illinois, cases haven’t spiked as high as in other parts of the country including Texas, but this year nearly three times as many cases have been reported so far this year compared to 2011, according to data collected by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Statewide, in 2011, there were 34 cases of West Nile virus in humans reported, and three human deaths, according to the IDPH. To date in 2012, but not including the most recent death reported by the CCPDH, there were 92 human cases and three deaths reported.

, according to data collected by the IDPH.

in July.

The first human death in Illinois this year was a DuPage County man in his 70s, the IDPH reported on Aug. 20.

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About West Nile Virus

Age is a risk factor for West Nile virus. People over the age of 50 are at a higher risk for complications from encephalitis and meningitis, the most serious manifestations of the disease, according to the CDC. The CCDPH stated the recent human death case involved an individual in the 70 to 79-year-old age range.

West Nile virus is a potentially serious illness, transmitted to humans through mosquito bites. Those infected experience severe, mild and no symptoms, according to the Center for Disease Control. Most people do not exhibit any symptoms.

Symptoms including fever, headache and body aches can occur three to 15 days after an infected mosquito bite, according to the CCDPH.

Severe symptoms can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis, according to the CDC. Symptoms can last several weeks, and neurological effects may be permanent.

Preventative measures include (source: CDC):

  • Get rid of standing water around your home in pet bowls, flowerpots, old tires, baby pools and toys. Water allowed to stagnate for three to four days becomes a breeding ground for mosquitos.
  • Check doors and windows have tightly-fitting screens, and repair tears or other openings.
  • Keep gutters clean and free of debris, and weeds and grass cut short.
  • Cover skin with lightly-colored, lose-fitting clothing when outdoors between dusk and dawn.

Use mosquito repellent with DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus.

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