First West Nile death reported in Illinois

Illinois has its first West Nile virus death case.

A 70-year-old man in DuPage County died this past weekend, weeks after contracting the virus.

It’s got area health departments on alert.

“The virus likes the warmer weather too, because it amplifies its growth,” said Paul Guse, with the Rock Island County Health Department.  

The drought has kept the West Nile virus at bay in our area.

“We feel that that it’s been too hot, too dry and that it’s probably discouraged some of the mosquitoes breeding sites that we normally would see,” said Guse.

 It’s a different story on the other side of Illinois, which has seen one death case.

Statewide, since almost a month ago, there have been 21 human cases of West Nile reported- higher than in years past.

A netted contraption is how the Rock Island County Health Department keeps track.

“It’s a fairly simple device, but it’s effective at catching the mosquitoes that are carriers of West Nile,” he said.

Guse and his team check it about every other day to monitor the spread of the virus.

But, even that has been a challenge this year.

“We have not been able to catch as many mosquitoes and therefore don’t have the data as far as how many tests we could do.”

That leaves a lot up in the air.

“There’s enough evidence, in other parts of the state, to show that the virus is there and if there’s some change in the weather conditions, particularly if we get a little more rain, we could expect it could still happen.”

Health departments check through September for West Nile.

There really are no symptoms, for the most part, if you happen to contract the virus.

Those 50 and older are most vulnerable and in extreme cases it can cause paralysis and death.

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