The State Health Department says there are now five human cases of the West Nile virus in Illinois. And this may just be the beginning of people in the state getting infected with the virus.
The Health Department announced today that there are three new cases of the disease in the Chicago area.
A 70-year-old man from southern cook county is in critical condition. The other two victims are a 49-year-old woman from Will County and a 41-year-old woman from Chicago. They both suffered from encephalitis but have recovered and are out of the hospital.
Health Department officials are urging people to remain calm and optimistic.
Try to stay away from standing water and stay inside from dusk until dawn. And if you have to be outside in the evening hours, make sure you have long pants on and wear mosquito repellant.
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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.
- Five human cases of West Nile encephalitis have been reported in Illinois.
- 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:
- District of Columbia
- New York
- New Jersey
- North Carolina
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.