By NewsDesk  @bactiman63

Illinois state health officials confirmed the first human West Nile virus-related death in Illinois for 2021 on Friday.

Image/Robert Herriman

A Will County resident who first became ill in late August and tested positive for West Nile virus has died.

“Although we are already into fall, we are expecting a warm weekend and West Nile virus remains a risk until the first hard frost,” said Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike.  “It’s important for everyone to continue taking precautions such as using insect repellent, wearing long sleeve shirts and pants, and staying indoors between dusk and dawn.”

Currently, 40 human cases of West Nile virus have been reported in Illinois.  Last year, IDPH reported 42 human cases (although human cases are underreported), including four deaths.  In 2020, 26 counties in Illinois reported a West Nile virus positive mosquito batch, bird, horse, and/or human case.

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West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito.  Common 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 symptoms.  In rare cases, severe illness including meningitis or encephalitis, or even death, can occur.  People older than 50 and immunocompromised individuals are at higher risk for severe illness.