Daily Journal staff report
The Illinois Department of Public Health has confirmed the first human West Nile virus-related death in Illinois for 2021. A Will County resident who first became ill in late August and tested positive for West Nile virus has died.
Currently, 40 human cases of West Nile virus have been reported in Illinois. Last year, IDPH reported 42 human cases (although it says human cases are under-reported), including four deaths.
In September, the Kankakee County Health Department reported that a pool of mosquitoes collected from a trap in Kankakee tested positive for West Nile virus. The first case in Iroquois County came in August when the health department reported a bird collected from the Gilman area tested positive for the virus.
In 2020, 26 counties in Illinois reported a West Nile virus-positive mosquito batch, bird, horse and/or human case.
“Although we are already into fall, we are expecting a warm weekend and West Nile virus remains a risk until the first hard frost,” said IDPH director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “It’s important for everyone to continue taking precautions such as using insect repellent, wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants, and staying indoors between dusk and dawn.”
Common symptoms of West Nile include fever, nausea, headache and muscle aches. Symptoms could last from a few days to a few weeks. Four out of five people infected will not display symptoms.
In rare cases, severe illness or even death can occur. Individuals older than 60 or with weakened immune systems are at higher risk for severe illness.