First human case, death of West Nile virus reported in Illinois for 2022

Mosquito (Source: Pexels/Anuj)
Mosquito (Source: Pexels/Anuj)

(KBSI) – The Illinois Department of Public Health confirmed the first human case and first human death of West Nile virus (WNV) reported in Illinois for 2022.

A person in his/her late 70s in Cook County became ill at the beginning of August and later died.

West Nile Virus was a contributing factor in the death. Laboratory testing at CDC has confirmed the diagnosis of WNV.

“This unfortunate first reported death of the year from West Nile virus in Illinois is a reminder
that this disease poses a risk, especially to those who have weakened immune systems,” said
IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra. “While the weather is warm and mosquitos are breeding, we
should all take precautions to protect ourselves from mosquitoes and the viruses they carry by
wearing insect repellent and eliminating standing water around our homes where mosquitos
breed.”

The first human case of WNV in Illinois was reported last year on August 3, 2021. For the 2021
season, IDPH reported 65 human cases (although human cases are underreported), including five
deaths. Also in 2021, 48 counties in Illinois reported a WNV positive mosquito batch, bird and/or
horses. So far in 2022, there have been positive mosquito batches in 30 counties and eight birds
have tested positive in six counties.

This year, the first mosquito batch to test positive for West Nile virus was collected on May 17,
2022, in Will County. The first bird to test positive for West Nile virus this year was collected in
Logan County on July 5.

Surveillance for West Nile virus in Illinois includes laboratory tests on mosquito batches, dead
crows, blue jays, robins and other perching birds, as well as testing sick horses and humans with
West Nile virus-like symptoms.

Those who observe a sick or dying crow, blue jay, robin or other perching bird should contact their local health department, which can determine if the bird will be picked up for testing.

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. Four out of five people infected with West Nile virus will not show, according to IDPH.

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