64-year-old Elgin man dies of West Nile Virus

A 64-year-old Elgin man has died of West Nile virus, officials from the Kane County Health Department announced Thursday.

The man died last Wednesday. His death is the county’s first West Nile virus death of 2012, but the second in recent weeks in Illinois. The Elgin man, whom the health department is not identifying, is also the county’s only human case of the virus in 2012, said Chris Hoff, a health department spokesman.

Kane County reported one human case last year and five in 2010. In 2009, there were no human cases reported in the county.

Health officials have been warning of a large resurgence of the virus this year. There have been 28 human cases of West Nile in Illinois so far this year. Nineteen of those have come in Cook County. But the only two fatal cases have occurred in Kane and neighboring DuPage County. Lombard Village President William Mueller died from West Nile complications Aug. 18 while also battling cancer.

The virus is transmitted through mosquitoes who have sucked blood from infected birds. While most people don’t show symptoms of the illness, some might get sick between three and 14 days after the bite. Only two out of 10 people bitten by infected mosquitoes will experience any sort of illness.

Symptoms include body aches, headache and a fever.

People older than 50 have the highest risk of severe disease, Hoff said.

The man went to a hospital after experiencing symptoms of the disease and was tested there, Hoff said. The department received his test results Thursday.

You should get tested for the virus only if you feel sick, but the majority of people will not show signs or symptoms of being sick, Hoff said.

“We’re not recommending that people go to the hospital for every bug bite,” he said.

Precautions to take to avoid the disease include staying inside when mosquitoes are most active between dusk and dawn, using bug repellent and changing water in birdbaths weekly.

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