Health officials in Illinois have reported the first human West Nile virus deaths of 2015 in elderly residents in Cook and Kendall counties.


The Cook County Department of Public Health reported a resident in their 90’s became ill at the end of August and has died.  Separately, the Kendall County Health Department reported a resident in their 70’s became ill at the end of July and has died.

“Although we’re getting closer to the end of summer, you still can be at risk of getting West Nile virus,” said Illinois Department of Public Health Nirav D. Shah, M.D., J.D.  “It’s important for everyone to continue taking precautions like wearing insect repellent and staying indoors between dusk and dawn.”

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) reported the first human case of West Nile virus in Illinois this year on August 19, 2015.  Last year there were 44 human cases, including four deaths.  Cases in human are underreported.

West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird.  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 any 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 from West Nile Virus.