The number of Kane County residents who have contracted the potentially-fatal West Nile virus has nearly doubled in recent days. County health department officials Wednesday reported four new confirmed cases, bringing the total human cases for the season to nine. The new total is the highest since 2007.
Two Elgin men in their 60s, a 50-year-old St. Charles man and a 59-year-old Geneva man became the latest victims of the virus. All four victims were hospitalized but have since been released. A 64-year-old Elgin man died in August from complications related to the virus.
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Health department officials said the spike in cases is the result of a hot and dry summer, the likes of which have not been seen in recent years. Conditions have been perfect for the particular species of mosquito that carries the virus to breed. Because of that, officials said more cases are likely until the next frost occurs. The health department staff will provide weekly updates of the human cases until that time.
Residents 50 and older are most susceptible to severe symptoms resulting from the virus, officials said. Symptoms usually occur three to 14 days after a mosquito bite and include fever and head and body aches. Encephalitis, meningitis and death are possible.
Officials again encourage residents to avoid being outdoors between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active. When outdoors, cover as much exposed skin as possible and wear insect repellent. Don't allow water to accumulate and stand in significant pools, including birdbaths, where mosquitoes like to breed.