Metro-East News

First human case of West Nile Virus in Illinois reported in St. Clair County

The state’s first human case of West Nile virus is of an adolescent female reported by the St. Clair County Health Department who became ill this month, the Illinois Department of Public Health announced Wednesday.

“The recent hot, dry weather in Illinois has increased the number of mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus,” said Nirav Shah with the Illinois Department of Public Health. “This first human case is a little later in the year than we typically see in Illinois, but it’s a good reminder of the importance for people to continue taking precautions like wearing insect repellent and staying indoors between dusk and dawn.”

Jennifer Meyer, the director of the Environmental Program for St. Clair County Health Department, said the girl is recovering and is expected to be OK.

The case was confirmed Tuesday night.

She said the girl does live in St. Clair County.

In 2014, the state reported 44 human cases of West Nile Virus, including four deaths. It added human cases are often under reported.

The announcement by the state comes one day after the St. Clair County and Madison County health departments, and the East Side Health District reported an increase in the number of mosquito batches testing positive for West Nile virus.

“Hopefully people will take into consideration some of the ways to protect themselves,” Meyer said.

West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that 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. However, four out of five people infected with West Nile virus will not show any symptom, the state health department said.

In rare cases, severe illness, including meningitis or encephalitis, or even death, can occur. People older than 50 and immune-compromised individuals are at higher risk for severe illness from West Nile virus.

Contact reporter Joseph Bustos at jbustos@bnd.com or 618-239-2451. Follow him on Twitter: @JoeBReporter.

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