HILLSIDE – The West Nile virus is back.
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) confirmed the year's first batch of mosquitoes with the virus, which can be deadly if transferred to humans. Employees of the Des Plaines Valley Mosquito Abatement District collected a positive sample May 21 in Hillside.
“Although we have been seeing a lot of what we call 'nuisance' mosquitoes due to the flooding, those mosquitoes typically do not carry West Nile virus," said Illinois Department of Public Health Director LaMar Hasbrouck in a release. "We are now starting to see Culex mosquitoes, which often do carry disease. Remember, as we head into the summer months, to protect yourself by wearing insect repellent and taking other precautions.”
In 2012, the virus infected 290 residents and caused 12 deaths, the second highest number of cases in state history, according to IDPH. The record was set in 2002, when an outbreak infected 884 residents and caused 67 deaths. No human cases have been reported so far this year.
West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird, IDPH said. Common West Nile virus symptoms 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. In rare cases, severe illness including meningitis and encephalitis, or even death, can occur. People older than 50 are at higher risk for severe illness from the virus.
More information about West Nile virus from IDPH can be found at www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/wnv.htm.