The DuPage County Health Department is now reporting a total of five human cases of West Nile virus in the county, and officials say the number is expected to rise in the coming days.
Individual cases have been confirmed in Carol Stream, Downers Grove, Lombard and Villa Park, the health department announced Monday. The ages of those affected range from 40s to 70s.
On Saturday, Lombard Village President Bill Mueller, 76, became the first West Nile fatality in DuPage County. He had been battling cancer since 2008, and had been hospitalized since Aug. 5.
Prior to Monday's announcement, only two other cases had been reported in the county, a Downers Grove woman in her 50s and a Villa Park man, also in his 50s. No other fatalities have been reported in the Chicago area this year.
The DuPage County Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control have recently warned residents of the high risk for infection from the virus after the warm, dry temperatures created a perfect breeding environment for the Culex mosquito, the main transmitter of the virus to humans.
The number of cases is expected to increase, officials said, since additional reports have been received and confirmation is anticipated in the coming days. Statewide data is available on the Illinois Department of Public Health WNV website.
According to health officials, the virus can be prevented by:
- Using insect repellents when you go outdoors.
- Wearing long sleeves and pants from dusk to dawn.
- Installing or repairing screens on windows and door, and using air conditioning, if you have it.
- Emptying standing water from items outside your home such as flowerpots, buckets and kiddie pools.
Approximately one in five people who are infected with West Nile virus will develop symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash, according to press release from the DuPage County Health Department.
Less than 1 percent will develop a serious neurologic illness such as encephalitis or meningitis (inflammation of the brain or surrounding tissues), officials said.
People over 50 years of age and those with certain medical conditions—such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease, and organ transplants—are at greater risk for serious illness, according to the release.
There are no medications to treat, or vaccines to prevent, West Nile virus infection. Individuals with milder illnesses typically recover on their own, but more severe cases often require hospitalization.
Story written by Amanda Luevano
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