Human West Nile Virus case reported in Woodford County, as disease expands its presence in McLean County

Published: Aug. 23, 2023 at 6:50 PM CDT
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(25News Now) - Of the 12 human cases of West Nile Virus in Illinois so far this year, one of the cases is in Woodford County, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) said on Wednesday.

IDPH also reported Illinois’ first death of an illness connected to the virus, a person in their 90′s who lived in suburban Cook County and started suffering from symptoms in early August.

Also on Wednesday, the McLean County Health Department said a mosquito pool collected in the 61705 zip code area east of Bloomington tested positive for the virus last week.

The local health department said its staffers earlier this week started distributing doorknob hangers in the neighborhoods where these samples were collected to notify residents and provide information on preventative measures.

No human cases have been reported in McLean County, but last week, a mosquito pool collected in the 61705 zip code area west of Bloomington tested positive, local health officials said.

Over the past four weeks, McLean County Health Department staffers reported dead bird samples tested positive in the 61701 zip code area of Bloomington and the 61761 zip code area of Normal.

Besides Woodford, state health leaders said Macon, Kane, Will and Madison Counties have each reported one human case. There have been seven human cases in Cook County, including two from Chicago, according to IDPH.

Mild cases in humans can cause a slight fever or headache. Severe infections can lead to high fever, disorientation, and even paralysis or death.

There’s no vaccine for West Nile Virus, so avoiding mosquito bites is the only way to prevent infections.

The health department recommends the 3 Rs to avoid mosquito bites.

Remove areas of standing water around your yard where mosquitoes can breed, such as old tires or unused planting pots. This is recommended weekly. It takes only 7-10 days for the Culex mosquito egg to develop into a biting adult.

Repel mosquitoes using insect repellent that includes DEET, lemon eucalyptus oil, or picaridin according to label instructions (consult a physician before using repellents on young children). You can also repel by wearing clothing that covers your skin, especially at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.

Report dead birds that show no sign of injury to the MCHD Environmental Health division at (309) 888-5482. If it appears the bird died within the past 24 hours (no decay or insect infestation) MCHD may collect it and have it tested for WNV.

More information about West Nile Virus can be found on the CDC website.

More information about mosquito control strategies can be found on the McLean County Health Department’s website.