(WTVO) — The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has announced the first Illinois resident of 2023 to die from the West Nile virus.

The 90-year-old suburban Cook County victim had an onset of symptoms in early August, dying soon after.

“We are sad to report the first death of the year from West Nile virus in Illinois,” said IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra. “This death and the 11 additional cases are a stark reminder that West Nile virus poses a serious risk, especially to older people and those with weakened immune systems. While the weather is warm and mosquitoes are breeding, we should all take precautions to ‘Fight the Bite’. Please protect yourself and your loved ones by reducing exposures, repelling insects with clothing and repellants, and reporting locations at high risk for producing mosquitoes.”

The time frame of the death is closely related to the first West Nile death of 2022, which also saw an onset of symptoms in early August. There have been twelve reported cases of West Nile in Illinois this year.

IDPH reminded that residents take steps to prevent West Nile by practicing the three “R’s”:

  • REDUCE – Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens. Repair or replace screens that have tears or other openings. Try to keep doors and windows shut. Eliminate, or refresh each week, all sources of standing water where mosquitoes can breed, including water in bird baths, ponds, flowerpots, wading pools, old tires, and any other containers.
  • REPEL – When outdoors, wear shoes and socks, long pants and a light-colored, long-sleeved shirt, and apply an EPA-registered insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR 3535 according to label instructions. The CDC does not recommend use of products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol on children under 3 years old. Consult a physician before using repellents on children under 3.
  • REPORT – Report locations where you see water sitting stagnant for more than a week such as roadside ditches, flooded yards, and similar locations that may produce mosquitoes. The local health department or city government may be able to add larvicide to the water, which will kill any mosquito larvae.