A Cook County woman has become the first human West Nile virus case for the State of Illinois in 2012.
The Cook County Health Department says the woman, who is in her 60s, became ill earlier in July. So far this year West Nile virus positive birds and mosquitoes have been reported in 27 counties. Usually, the first human case of West Nile virus is announced in August of each year.
Last year, 19 counties reported a West Nile virus positive bird, mosquito batch, and/or human case. Thirty-four humans contracted the virus in Illinois, and three died.
The virus is spread through the bite of a mosquito that had fed on an infected bird. Common symptoms include fever, nausea, headache, and muscle aches and may last from a few days to a few weeks. Four out of five people infected with the virus will show no symptoms. Severe illness like meningitis or encephalitis, or even death, can occur, but in rare cases. People over the age of 50 are at a higher risk for severe illness from the virus.
For more information on how to avoid West Nile, see here.
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