Chicagoan and suburban resident are first West Nile cases

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The West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito, which has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird.

Sun-Times file photo

Sun-Times file

A suburban woman and elderly Chicago resident are the first two people in Cook County to contract the West Nile virus this summer, according to health officials.

A northwest suburban woman in her 50s became ill in late July, according to a statement from the Cook County Health Department.

One case has been reported in the city.

“At present, there has been one case of West Nile virus in an elderly Chicago resident, and this individual has since recovered,” according to a statement from the Chicago Department of Public Health. “One WNV case by this point in the summer is consistent with what we have seen in previous summer seasons.”

As of Thursday, the Illinois Department of Public Health had reported five human cases of the virus, with the closest occurring in Grundy County and the others downstate or in far western Illinois, according to IDPH.

Most people who are infected have no symptoms, but people over the age of 50 and those with a chronic disease, such as heart disease or cancer, may be at increased risk for complications.

As of Thursday, there are pools of mosquitoes carrying the virus in at least 57 communities in the county, according to the health department.

“West Nile virus can cause serious illness,” CDPH COO Dr. Terry Mason said in the statement. “It is important that we all keep our guard up this time of year and follow basic prevention tips.”

CDPH advises residents to protect themselves from mosquitoes, including wearing repellent, ensuring all window and door screens are intact, and eliminating standing water around the yard.

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