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Downers Grove Woman is First Local Human Case of West Nile Virus This Year

The DuPage County Health Department reports today that the woman is in her 50s. People older than 50 are at greater risk to contract the virus.

A woman from Downers Grove is the first reported human case of West Nile Virus to be diagnosed in DuPage County this year, the DuPage County Health Department reported Tuesday.

The health department has of the high risk for infection from the virus after the warm, dry temperatures created a perfect breeding environment for the Culex mosquito, the main transmitter of the virus to humans.

The woman diagnosed with the virus is in her 50s, according to the health department. People older than 50 and those with medical conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease and organ transplants, have a greater risk for serious illness from the virus. 

About one in five people who are infected with West Nile virus will develop symptoms. Symptoms include fever, headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash.  Less than 1 percent will develop a serious neurologic illness such as encephalitis or meningitis, the DuPage County Health Department said. 

While the first human case of the West Nile virus was only reported Tuesday, the DuPage County Health Department has said that at this time last year there was only one positive test for West Nile virus in mosquitoes trapped in the county, according to a news release from the . So far this summer, the department reports 89 mosquito pools have tested positive for the virus.

The  in a mosquito was reported on May 18 this year, compared to July 15 last year, the department said in a news release issued last week.

West Nile virus is transmitted to people by infected mosquitoes.  The best way to prevent the virus is to avoid mosquito bites:

  • Use insect repellents when you go outdoors. 
  • Wear long sleeves and pants during dawn and dusk.
  • Install or repair screens on windows and doors.  Use air conditioning, if you have it.
  • Empty standing water from items outside your home such as flowerpots, buckets and kiddie pools.

Aside from taking precautions to prevent mosquito bites, there are no medications to treat, or vaccines to prevent, West Nile virus infection, the DuPage Health Department said. 

People with milder illnesses typically recover on their own, although symptoms may last for several weeks, the department said. Severe cases may require hospitalization so patients receive supportive treatments, such as intravenous fluids, pain medication and medical care. Anyone with symptoms that cause concern should contact a health care provider.

Downers Grove residents who are interested in monitoring West Nile virus in the area may find an interactive map displaying the various incidents of positive and negative findings. The map of mosquito traps found throughout the county will be updated as mosquitoes test positive for West Nile virus, the health department said.  

Written by Mary Ann Lopez

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