Chicago Resident is State's First West Nile Virus Death This Year

A Chicago resident has died after contracting the West Nile virus in September

West Nile Mosquito Trap
NBC 5 News

A Chicago resident has become the first West Nile virus-related death in Illinois this year, health officials said Thursday.

The person fell ill with the virus and tested positive in mid-September, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Additional details about the death were not released.

“Although we are already into fall, West Nile virus remains a risk until the first hard frost,” IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in a statement. “It’s important for everyone to continue taking precautions such as using insect repellent, wearing long sleeve shirts and pants, and staying indoors between dusk and dawn.”

So far, 24 human cases of West Nile virus — which is primarily transmitted by mosquitos — have been reported in Illinois this year.

Last year, Illinois reported 28 human cases, including one death. In 2019, 46 counties in Illinois reported a West Nile virus-positive mosquito, bird, horse or human case, health officials said.

Meanwhile, the COVID-19 virus has infected at least 310,700 Illinois residents, killing 8,910 of them.

Common symptoms of West Nile virus include fever, nausea, headache and muscle aches. Symptoms can last from a few days to a few weeks.

However, four out of five people infected with West Nile virus will not show any symptoms, health officials said. In rare cases, severe illness including meningitis, or even death, can occur. People older than 60 and individuals with weakened immune systems are at higher risk for severe illness from West Nile virus.

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