The season’s first human case of West Nile virus in Cook County is a woman in her 40s from the southwest suburbs, health officials announced Wednesday.
The Oak Lawn resident became ill earlier this month but did not require hospitalization, according to the Cook County Department of Public Health. She is recovering at home.
"I can’t stress enough the importance of prevention during West Nile virus season," Cook County Department of Public Health COO Dr. Terry Mason said in a statement. "Every year, the virus circulates throughout suburban Cook County and while we can’t eliminate those mosquitoes, we all have the ability to take basic prevention measures to protect against human transmission."
Department officials said mosquito pools in 61 communities, as well as three dead birds, have tested positive for the virus.
Health officials said most people infected by the virus show no symptoms, but people over 50 or suffering a chronic disease are "at-risk for serious complications," according to CCDPH.
The most effective way to prevent against becoming infected with WNV is to follow the 3 Rs, officials said. They are:
- Remove standing water around your home in pet bowls, flower pots, old tires, baby pools and toys. Water that is allowed to stagnate for three or four days become a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
- Repel mosquitoes when outdoors between dusk and dawn by applying insect repellent with DEET and wear light, lose fitting clothing.
- Repair or replace torn screens on doors and windows