The Illinois Department of Public Health confirmed that a McHenry County woman in her 50s who became ill earlier this month is the first human West Nile virus case reported in Illinois for 2013.
The Grundy County Health Department is continuing its efforts to monitor for the presence of West Nile virus in the county.
This week brought five more positive test results from the mosquito pools tested for West Nile virus.
So far this year, 11 test samples have been positive for West Nile virus.
In addition, the GCHD submitted several birds for testing, one of which has tested positive for West Nile virus.
“We had 12 total positive pools of mosquitoes last year, and are already up to 11 this year, as well as an infected bird. We are likely to see more positive mosquito results as the season continues,” Mike Boyle, director of environmental health said.
“The evolving concern is that the significant presences of the virus will eventually result in residents becoming infected with West Nile virus and potentially developing encephalitis or dying as a result.”
The Grundy County Health Department continues to encourage everyone to follow the Illinois Department of Public Health’s three R’s to avoid contracting any of the illnesses that are transmitted by mosquitoes.
The three R’s are Reduce, Repel and Report:
• Reduce exposure by avoiding the outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, especially between dusk and dawn.
Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens that are free of holes or tears in them.
Finally, eliminate standing water where mosquitoes can breed, including flowerpots, wading pools, old tires and any other receptacles, and change water in bird baths weekly.
Also, do not forget to check gutters, which can hold water if blocked or filled with debris.
• Repel the mosquitoes when outdoors by wearing shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt.
The IDPH also recommends you apply insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR 3535, according to label instructions.
They encourage you consult a physician before using repellents on infants.
• Report areas of stagnant water in roadside ditches, flooded yards and similar locations that may produce mosquitoes to whoever handles mosquito control activities in your area.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health: “mild cases of West Nile infections may cause a slight fever or headache. More-severe infections are marked by a rapid onset of a high fever with head and body aches, disorientation, tremors, convulsions and, in the most severe cases, paralysis or death.”
These symptoms will typically appear three to 14 days after the bite of an infected mosquito.
The State Health Departments web-site also states, “persons at the highest risk for serious illness are those 50 years of age or older.”
Temperatures continue to be suitable for the development and spread of West Nile virus.
The risk of contracting West Nile from a biting mosquito continues until the first hard freeze.
For further information regarding West Nile virus, contact the Grundy County Health Department at 815-941-3115.
You may also obtain information from the IDPH website at www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/wnv.htm.