First 2017 West Nile virus death in Illinois confirmed -

First 2017 West Nile virus death in Illinois confirmed

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A generic photograph of mosquitos. A generic photograph of mosquitos.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has confirmed the first human West Nile virus death in Illinois for 2017. The death occurred earlier this month and was of a Kankakee County resident who tested positive for West Nile virus. Kankakee County is about one hour south of Chicago.

The IDPH reported the first case of West Nile virus in Illinois this year on July 20 and is currently reporting 37 cases. In 2016 there were 155 cases, including six deaths.

IDPH Director Nirav D. Shah said in a statement that although cooler weather is beginning, West Nile virus is still a concern.

"It’s important for everyone to continue taking precautions like using insect repellent, wearing long sleeve shirts and pants, and staying indoors between dusk and dawn," Shah said.

West Nile virus is transmitted through a mosquito bite. Symptoms include fever, nausea, headache and muscle aches and can last from a few days to a few weeks. Most people infected with the virus will not show any symptoms. In rare cases, severe illness such as meningitis or even death can occur. Those at a higher risk for severe illness are people over 50 years old and people with weakened immune systems.

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