An elderly man is the first person to have contracted the West Nile Virus in St. Clair County this year, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
The man is the 14th person in the state to have contracted the mosquito-borne virus. No confirmed cases have been reported in other counties surrounding St. Clair County.
Since health officials began testing for the virus in May, the St. Clair County Health Department reports 25 pools with mosquitos have tested positive for the virus in county.
A human vaccine is not available for the disease, which causes mild fever, headache and body aches. However, serious illness and death are possible especially for those older than 50 years of age.
Birds, mosquitos and humans have contracted the virus in 59 counties, according to state health officials.
The Department of Public Health reported the first death of a person with the virus Sept. 13. An elderly Logan County resident became ill with the virus in mid-August and died.
Two Illinois residents have died from the virus this year. The virus related deaths occurred later than usual, according to Illinois Department of Public Health Director LaMar Hasbrouck.
"Even with cooler temperatures, until the first hard freeze, you still need to protect yourself against mosquito bites and possible West Nile virus infection," Hasbrouck said in a statement.
St. Clair County health officials suggest the following to prevent the spread of the virus:
* Reduce exposure to mosquitoes by avoiding the outdoors at night.
* Ensure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens.
* Eliminate standing water where mosquitoes can breed, including bird baths, ponds, flowerpots, wading pools, gutters and old tires.
* Wear shoes, socks long pants and long-sleeved shirts when outdoors.
* Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR 3535 when outside. Consult a physician before using repellents on infants.
* Report areas of stagnant water to your local city officials. Report dead birds to the St. Clair County Health Department.
For more information, call the St. Clair County Health Department at 233-7769 or visit the department's website at www.health.co.st-clair.il.us.
Contact reporter Daniel Kelley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 618-239-2501.