Suburban Cook County resident first human Illinois West Nile virus-related death of 2023

The individual, who was in their 90s, had an “onset of symptoms” of the virus earlier this month and died shortly after, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

SHARE Suburban Cook County resident first human Illinois West Nile virus-related death of 2023
The West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito, which has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird.

West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that fed on an infected bird.

Sun-Times file

A suburban Cook County resident who died this month was reported Wednesday as the state’s first human West Nile virus-related death of the year.

The individual, who was in their 90s, had an “onset of symptoms” of the virus earlier this month and died shortly after, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

“We are sad to report the first death of the year from West Nile virus in Illinois,” said Dr. Sameer Vohra, the department’s director. “Please protect yourself and your loved ones by reducing exposures, repelling insects with clothing and repellants, and reporting locations at high risk for producing mosquitoes.”

The department reported 11 additional non-fatal cases of the virus in Cook, Kane, Macon, Madison, Will and Woodford counties. Chicago reported two of the 11 cases.

There were seven deaths from the virus confirmed in the state last year and an additional 26 non-fatal cases reported, though the department says human cases have been underreported.

The virus is transmitted through the bite of a Culex mosquito, or common mosquito, which fed on an infected bird.

Symptoms include fever, nausea, headache and muscle aches and may last from a few days to a few weeks, according to the department. People older than 50 are at higher risk for severe illness from West Nile virus.

There is no specific treatment or vaccine for the virus, according to the department.

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