ST. CHARLES—Kane County reported its first human case of West Nile virus for 2011 this past week, a 63-year-old woman from St. Charles. Across the state, the Illinois Department of Public Health is reporting West Nile activity in people in nine other counties.
The St. Charles woman reported feeling ill in the middle of September, but she did not require hospitalization. Last year, Kane County had five reported cases, in 2009 there were none, three in 2008 and 13 in 2007. Typically, about two people in 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, meningitis and death are possible. Most people with the virus have no clinical symptoms of illness, but some may become ill three to 15 days after the bite of an infected mosquito.
The best way to prevent West Nile disease or any other mosquito-borne illness is to reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home and to take personal precautions to avoid mosquito bites, including:
• Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, especially between dusk and dawn.
• When outdoors, wear shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, and apply insect repellent that includes DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus according to label instructions.
• Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens.
• Change water in birdbaths weekly. Properly maintain wading pools and stock ornamental ponds with fish. Cover rain barrels with 16-mesh wire screen.
Contact your municipal government to report areas of stagnant water in roadside ditches, flooded yards and similar locations that may produce mosquitoes. Go to the Kane County Health Department website at kanehealth.com or idph.state.il.us/env health/wnv.htm. More information is available on the IDPH West Nile Virus Hotline at (866) 369-9710 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.