Illinois health officials report seven new West Nile virus case

Saturday, September 7, 2002

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported seven newly confirmed cases of West Nile virus in the state Friday, bringing the total to 224.

So far the state has confirmed nine deaths attributed to the mosquito-borne illness. The nonfatal cases announced Friday were all from suburban Cook County.

The new totals apparently put Illinois ahead of Louisiana for the most West Nile cases in the country, although not all states update their totals quickly. As of Friday, Louisiana had 222 cases of the virus, including 10 deaths, said Kyle Viator, spokesman for the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals.

"Whether we're first or second or 15th, our response and what we're doing here won't change," Illinois Health Department spokesman Tom Schafer said.

Dr. John R. Lumpkin, Illinois' public health director, reminded people to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites. Some of those steps include avoiding being outdoors at dawn, dusk or early evening; using insect repellent containing 25 to 35 percent DEET; wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts; and eliminating stagnant water where mosquitoes might breed.

Health officials say most people who get infected with West Nile virus have either no symptoms or mild symptoms, but a few individuals can develop a more severe form of the disease. Health officials have said existing health conditions could worsen the effects of West Nile.

Human cases have been identified in 21 Illinois counties. The average age of all Illinois cases is 55.7.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: