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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director, today announced a DuPage County man has become the state's first fatality this year from West Nile disease.
Whitaker said the 58-year-old man, who was reported yesterday afternoon as a case, died Wednesday evening. He had become ill in mid-August and been hospitalized with West Nile encephalitis.
"This man's unfortunate death serves as a reminder to all of us how serious West Nile disease can be," Whitaker said. "Our sympathies and thoughts are with his family."
In addition to the man's death, Whitaker also reported four other West Nile human cases have pushed the state's case total this year to 20. They are:
-- A 65-year-old woman from Clinton County with West Nile encephalitis, who became ill in late-August and is hospitalized.
-- A 40-year-old woman from suburban Cook County, who became ill in mid-August with West Nile fever and did not require hospitalization.
-- A 58-year-old woman from McLean County, who became ill in early July with West Nile fever and did not require hospitalization.
-- A 34-year-old woman from Will County, who became ill late-July with West Nile fever and did not require hospitalization.
The state's other human cases of West Nile have been from the city of Chicago and Boone, Clinton, Cook, DuPage, Ford, Jackson, Jo Daviess, Kendall, LaSalle, Rock Island, Sangamon, St. Clair and Will counties.
In addition to the human cases, a total of 179 birds, 769 mosquito pools, two horses and one alpaca have been identified this year with West Nile virus.
In 2003, Illinois recorded 54 West Nile disease human cases, including one death, and in 2002, the state led the nation with 884 cases and 66 deaths.
WNV is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird. Most people with the virus have no clinical symptoms of illness, but some may become ill three to 14 days after the bite of an infected mosquito.
Only about two persons out of 10 who are bitten by an infected mosquito will experience any illness. Illness from West Nile is usually mild and includes fever, headache and body aches, but serious illness, such as encephalitis and meningitis, and death are possible. Persons over 50 years of age have the highest risk of severe disease.
Source: Illinois Department of Public Health