Illinois Department of Public Health laboratories confirmed a positive case of a West Nile virus (WNV) on Oct. 1 in McLean County.
The case was reported in mid-September when a woman in her 80s was hospitalized. This is the first human case of West Nile Virus the county has seen this year. The woman remains hospitalized for recovery.
Young children and the elderly are most susceptible to infection by the mosquito-carrying West Nile Virus, although students that have weak immune systems could also be at risk. Students are vulnerable to the virus due to the fact that they are active outside, going to and from campus.
“Because college students tend to be more active outdoors, such as riding bicycles, jogging, or simply walking around campus, it is important for them to be aware of how to protect themselves from possible WNV infection,” Kera Brossette, public health communication specialist at McLean County Health Department, said.
Students are encouraged to wear protective skin-covering clothing during dusk and dawn, which is when the virus carrying mosquitoes are most active. Students should also wear protective DEET-containing insect repellent before going outside. Other repellents that are also effective are picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus, Brossette said.
“As the weather cools, residents are more likely to open windows in the morning or evening for ventilation, which may open their home to mosquitoes carrying West Nile Virus,” McLean County Health Department Director Walt Howe said in a press release.
As students, it is important to make sure window and door screens are not torn or damaged. Students should report any damages to resident assistants or landlords to prevent mosquitoes from entering. If windows do not have screens, limit the length of time they are open during dusk and dawn hours.
Twenty-seven human cases of West Nile Virus and two deaths as a result have been reported in Illinois over the last year. In addition, five positive collections of West Nile Virus carrying mosquitoes were found in McLean County in Old Town Township, Dale Township, the Lake Bloomington area and the Ellsworth area. Two WNV infected birds were also found in the county. McLean County is one of 66 counties that has been affected by West Nile Virus this year.
Most symptoms of West Nile Virus are mild, including fever, headache, nausea and vomiting. Symptoms develop three to 14 days after being bitten by a virus-carrying mosquito and can last up to a few days. There is no treatment for WNV; however, most cases resolve themselves.
The McLean County Health Department continues to monitor mosquitoes and birds in the area.
For more information visit http://health.mcleancountyil.gov/wnv.