Will County resident dies from West Nile virus; first Illinois death in 2021

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WILL COUNTY, Ill. — A Will County resident has become the first Illinoisan to die from West Nile virus this year.

The resident, whose age was not given, became ill in late August.

“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 sleeve shirts and pants, and staying indoors between dusk and dawn.”

There are currently 40 human cases of West Nile virus in Illinois. In 2020, 42 human cases and four deaths were reported.

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. People older than 50 and immunocompromised individuals are at higher risk for severe illness, IDPH said.

IDPH said resiudents can practice the three “R’s” — reduce, repel and report.

  • REDUCE – eliminate or refresh each week, all sources of standing water. Repair or replace screens that have tears or other openings. 
  • REPEL – 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.
  • 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.

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