Two Illinois women who had contracted the West Nile virus have died, therefore becoming the state’s first two deaths from the infection in 2014, announced public health officials on Thursday morning. They each had been diagnosed with the virus in the latter part of August. Their names have not been released to the public but one female was in her 70’s and the other in her 80’s, declared Chicago Public Health Department spokesperson Ryan Gage. Two other Illinois inhabitants who were also suffering from the virus have both recovered.
Across the state, public health administrators stated there have been 15 human cases of West Nile virus reported. It is spread by mosquitoes and Illinois Public Health Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck explained that the state had experienced both a wetter and cooler summer than normal, which resulted in less mosquitoes being produced. Even so, with that fact resulting in less West Nile virus activity, these two tragic demises just go to show that the illness is still around, circulating and might cause death.
Dr. Hasbrouck stated that just because the cooler temperatures of approaching autumn were coming on, that did not mean individuals could be lax in protecting themselves. He added that until the first good, hard freeze, people will need to still be protecting themselves from getting mosquito bites and in turn, possibly the West Nile virus.
In 2013, 11 individuals in Illinois died from West Nile virus and nearly 120 Illinois citizens were diagnosed as having it. West Nile virus usually causes body aches, headaches and high fevers. People who are age 50 and over have a much higher chance of suffering dangerous complications. The two women who had contracted the virus and died this year were both elderly.
Illinois Public Health representatives recommend getting rid of any water puddles because that is where mosquitoes like to multiply. When people eliminate any standing or stagnant water that might be on their property, this takes away the main breeding ground of mosquitoes. However it is always good to remember any heaps of rubble, dripping plates that might have been placed under potted plants, old barrels, buckets, stagnant ponds, or old tires that can also be places where water might become dirty and stagnant.
The health department also says to be sure to use an insect repellent that contains DEET if a person is going to be outdoors for a long period of time, near wooded areas or going to be out after dark. They also recommend fixing any ripped screens on windows or doors so mosquitoes cannot fly in.
All of these acts can help to fight against the virus. It is spread to a human being when he or she gets bitten by a mosquito that has fed off of an infected bird. People have to stay vigilant in the fight against West Nile virus, even if fall is near. Illinois does not want to have any more tragedies happen like they did with the two women who contracted the virus and died, if they can so help it.
By Kimberly Ruble