The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has confirmed the first human West Nile virus case reported in Illinois for 2014. The Chicago Department of Public Health reported a woman in her 70’s became ill in July. She  lives in the West Ridge community area and is recovering at home.

West Nile virus
Culex quinquefasciatus mosquito/CDC

“This first human case is a good reminder that we all need to take precautions,” said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck. “The mosquitoes that typically carry West Nile virus, commonly called the house mosquito, are not as noticeable as the swarms of floodwater mosquitoes we see with the heavy rains. Even if it does not look like there are a lot of mosquitoes outdoors, house mosquitoes are stealthy biters so make sure to use insect repellent when you’re outside.”

The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) is continuing its efforts against West Nile virus by spraying to kill adult mosquitoes in parts of the Northwest and Far Northwest Sides on Wednesday, August 20th and Thursday, August 21st, 2014. This is the first spraying to occur in the City this season.

“When our mosquito traps indicate that the West Nile Virus may threaten human health in a community, we take decisive action,” said CDPH Commissioner Bechara Choucair, M.D. “Even though this summer has been cooler than average, we all must take appropriate precautions.”

West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird. Common West Nile virus symptoms include fever, nausea, headache and muscle aches. Symptoms may last from a few days to a few weeks. However, four out of five people infected with West Nile virus will not show any symptoms. In rare cases, severe illness including meningitis or encephalitis, or even death, can occur. People older than 50 are at higher risk for severe illness from West Nile virus. For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page

CDPH reminds residents to take precautions against mosquitoes that may carry the virus, including:
•    Use insect repellent that contains DEET, Picaridin or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus.
•    Eliminate standing water. This includes emptying water from flowerpots, gutters, pool covers, pet water dishes and birdbaths regularly.
•    Keep grass and weeds short to eliminate hiding places for adult mosquitoes.
•    When outside between dusk and dawn, wear loose-fitting, light colored clothing including long pants, long sleeve shirts, socks and shoes.
•    Check that all screens, windows and doors are tight-fitting and free of holes and tears
•    Check on neighbors regularly who may need additional assistance, including the elderly.