West Nile Strikes Again

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The Illinois Department of Public Health is reporting seven new human cases of West Nile virus, bringing to 16 the number of cases in the state.

Six of the newly reported cases are in Cook County, and one was reported in Sangamon County. Nationwide, more than 250 human cases and 11 deaths from the virus, including one in Illinois, have been announced.

State Public Health Director Doctor John Lumpkin says his department is operating its Chicago laboratory seven days a week to assist hospitals and doctors with the testing of human samples. Lumpkin says its likely there will be additional human cases.

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West Nile in Illinois

  • In Illinois, West Nile virus was first identified in September 2001 when laboratory tests confirmed its presence in two dead crows found in the Chicago metropolitan area.

  • Since then, more than 100 birds, mosquitoes and horses in seven counties -- six in the Chicago area and Crawford County in central Illinois -- have tested positive for the virus.

  • So far, 16 human cases of West Nile encephalitis have been reported in Illinois in 2002.

  • The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has had a sophisticated disease surveillance system in place since 2000 to monitor animals and insects that can potentially carry the virus: wild birds; dead crows, blue jays and raptors; and mosquitoes.

  • Over the past two years, the virus, which can be transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito, has quickly spread throughout the northeastern states and to states south and west of New York.

  • In 2001, West Nile virus was also identified in other Midwestern states, including Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri and Wisconsin.

States With Birds Testing Positive in 2002:

  • Alabama
  • District of Columbia
  • Georgia
  • Indiana
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia
  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • Louisiana
  • Massachusetts
  • New Jersey
  • North Carolina
  • Pennsylvania
  • Texas

Source: http://www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/wnv.htm (Illinois Department of Health Web site), and http://westnilevirus.nbii.gov/ (National Biological Information Infrastructure Web site) contributed to this report.