Aurora man has first human case this year of West Nile in DuPage County
An Aurora man who contracted West Nile virus marks the first human case of the mosquito-borne disease in DuPage County this year.
The man, who is in his 60s, fell ill in mid-August, the county health department said Thursday. He received evaluation and care as an outpatient, without hospital admission, a department spokeswoman said.
Ahead of the Labor Day weekend, public health officials are encouraging people to guard against mosquito bites, citing a recent increase in mosquito batches testing positive for the presence of the virus.
West Nile symptoms include fever, nausea, skin rash, head and body aches, vomiting, or diarrhea. Symptoms may last from a few days to a few weeks. Less than 1% of people infected with West Nile will develop encephalitis or meningitis, an inflammation of the lining of the brain.
People older than 60 and those with weakened immune systems are at higher risk for serious illness from West Nile virus.
Last year, the Illinois Public Health Department reported 42 human cases, including four people who died, although officials warn human cases are underreported. The median age of those infected was 63.
In Illinois, the first virus case of 2021 involved a Cook County man in his 80s who became ill in mid-June, according to the state health department.
Health officials recommend following the four "D's" of defense:
• Drain: Empty those items that collect standing water around your home or yard to reduce areas where mosquitoes can breed. Scrub and refill pet water dishes and birdbaths regularly.
• Defend: Use an insect repellent containing DEET when outdoors and reapply according to the directions.
• Dress: Wear long pants, long sleeves and closed-toe shoes when outside.
• Dusk to Dawn: Wear repellent outdoors during those prime times for mosquito activity.
The DuPage health department monitors virus activity by collecting and testing mosquitoes in traps throughout the county.
The health department also has a Personal Protection Index, a kind of warning system for West Nile activity updated Wednesday afternoons on a scale of zero to three.
The current level is two, meaning there's a moderate risk, "high numbers of infected mosquitoes in most areas" and at least one confirmed human case.
West Nile activity generally decreases with cooler temperatures in the fall, especially after the first frost.