West Nile Virus case 1st in Cook County this year

An Oak Lawn man is the first Cook County resident to contract the West Nile Virus this year.
September 5, 2013 2:53:36 PM PDT
An Oak Lawn man is the first Cook County resident to contract the West Nile Virus this year.

Evergreen Park Mayor James Saxton said he hates to hear that anyone has been infected with West Nile Virus. He was infected himself last year.

While the Chicago Department of Public Health has not reported any confirmed cases, this week Cook County health officials did.

Workers canvass neighborhoods in southwest suburban Oak Lawn after health officials say a man there came down with Cook County's first confirmed human case of West Nile Virus this year.

"This is not the regular common mosquito. This is a special mosquito that likes to breed when it is hot and dry," said Dr. Terry Mason, Cook County Department of Public Health CEO.

The man, who is in his 50s, became ill in late August and was hospitalized.

He has since been released and is now recovering.

That's what happened to Sexton after his serious bout with West Nile Virus.

"It just kind of tears up your whole insides. It works on your central nervous system. That's still some of the problem I have with the neck," Sexton said.

Efforts continue to warn the public of the possible danger.

Worth Township Highway Commissioner Edward Moody and some of his employees passed out information to residents about how to prevent West Nile Virus.

West Nile Virus is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird.

Common West Nile Virus can affect all ages.

The symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Headache and muscle aches

Internist Dr. Reuben Nichols says most people infected never get sick.

"It's only 1 in 5 patients that will actually develop symptoms. Of those 1 in five that actually get symptoms, less than 1 percent of those patients will actually develop neurological manifistations," Dr. Nichols said.

Meanwhile, normally robust Sexton is back to work but still recovering.

The 61-year-old spent two and a half weeks in the ICU after becoming infected in August of last year.

"It's been a full year and without all the prayers and thoughts and a great family, doctors and therapists, I don't know where I'd be," he said.

Sexton said he still goes to rehab to work on some of the condition and the issues he still has in his neck.

As for the West Nile Virus in the state, health officials are saying that so far, there have been no deaths connected with the disease.


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