The first human case of West Nile virus in 2017 was reported this week in Illinois, confirmed state health officials. The Illinois Department of Public Health confirmed the affected person is a 67-year-old from Crete.

Health officials said the man became ill at the end of June after traveling to Wisconsin and Utah. IDPH Director Dr. Nirav D. Shah noted this is typically the time of the year when human cases of West Nile virus start to appear.

Image Credit: Shutterstock
Image Credit: Shutterstock

Last year, the state’s department of health reported 155 human cases of the disease, as well as six deaths resulting from it.

Illinois man is the first human case this year of West Nile virus

West Nile virus is commonly transmitted to humans by mosquitoes carrying the disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Shah noted that in this time of the year, mosquitoes breed in some parts of the state.

“Although the flooding in northeastern Illinois may be producing a large number of floodwater mosquitoes, those mosquitoes do not carry West Nile virus,” said Dr. Shah, according to Outbreak News Today. “However, the hot, dry conditions we’ve been seeing around the rest of Illinois, which leave small, stagnant pockets of standing water, create ideal breeding sites for the type of mosquito that does carry West Nile virus.”

The first case last year was registered on June 6, with a total of 155 cases and six deaths. That year, 61 counties in the state reported a West Nile virus positive mosquito batch, bird and human case. The virus can be transferred to humans by the bite of the Culex mosquito if the mosquito has bitten an infected bird.

Monitoring for the virus in Illinois involves lab testing for mosquito batches, dead birds like crows, blue jays and robins, and testing humans with disease-like symptoms. The Environmental Health Division at Will County’s Health Department recently confirmed that four mosquito batches collected in New Lenox, Manhattan, and Joliet had tested positive for the West Nile virus.

Illinois Department of Public Health issued recommendations against the virus

Symptoms of the disease in humans can include a fever, body aches, joint pains, headaches, vomiting, diarrhea, or a rash, and can last up to several weeks. The CDC says that only 1 in 5 people infected with the virus develop symptoms, and less than 1 percent of them develop severe or fatal neurological illness.

The infection cycle of the West Nile Virus. Image Credit: Tooele County Health Department
The infection cycle of the West Nile Virus. Image Credit: Tooele County Health Department

Neurological disease can include meningitis, encephalitis, or death. The state Department of Public Health noted people older than 50 and people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of developing serious symptoms if they contract West Nile virus.

The IDPH recommends that people reduce risks of allowing these mosquitoes to breed in small concentrations of water. They also urge people to repel these insects and to report locations where water has been sitting stagnant for more than a week.

Kyle Moy, West Nile program manager for Will County’s Health Department, recommended that people should use insect repellent with DEET if they are outdoors. He also suggested wearing long pants, long sleeves, and socks, and avoiding outdoor activities during the mosquitoes’ peak hour, between dusk and dawn.

Source: Chicago Tribune