CHICAGO — A Chicago resident who became ill and tested positive for the West Nile virus last month has died, becoming the first person in Illinois to die this year from the virus this year, the Illinois Department of Public Health announced Thursday.
Health officials did not identify the victim, but said the person became ill in mid-September.
“Although we are already into fall, West Nile virus remains a risk until the first hard frost,” IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in a news release Thursday announcing the death. “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.”
According to the news release, 24 people across Illinois have tested positive for West Nile this year. Last year, 28 people were diagnosed with West Nile and one person died. In 2019, 46 counties across the state reported positive cases in mosquito batches, birds, horses and or a human case.
Health officials said that West Nile is transmitted through mosquito bites and that common symptoms include fever, nausea, headache and muscle aches. Four out of five people who are infected with the virus, however, do not show any symptoms. People over the age of 50 are at risk for severe illness.