Chicago resident becomes 1st 2020 West Nile Virus death in Illinois

West Nile Virus symptoms can be found on IDPH website
CHICAGO (WLS) -- A Chicago resident has died from the West Nile Virus, the first Illinois death this year related to the virus, the Illinois Department of Health confirmed Thursday.

Twenty four other human cases have been reported in the state in 2020, according to the IDPH.

The Chicagoan became ill in mid-September and tested positive for West Nile virus.

"Although we are already into fall, West Nile virus remains a risk until the first hard frost," IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said. "It's important for everyone to continue taking precautions such as using insect repellent, wearing long sleeve shirts and pants and staying indoors between dusk and dawn."

Last year, IDPH reported 28 human cases, although human cases are underreported, including one death. In 2019, 46 counties in Illinois reported a West Nile virus positive mosquito batch, bird, horse or human case.

RELATED: Chicago man first 2019 Illinois human case of West Nile virus confirmed

West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito. Common symptoms include fever, nausea, headache and muscle aches. Symptoms may last from a few days to a few weeks. However, four out of five people infected with West Nile virus will not show any symptoms. In rare cases, severe illness including meningitis or encephalitis, or even death, can occur. People older than 50 and immunocompromised individuals are at higher risk for severe illness.

State health officials ask that Illinois residents take the following steps:

  • Reduce by eliminating or refreshing all sources of standing water each week; repair or replace screens that have tears or other openings.

  • Repel by wearing shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt when outside, and apply insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR 3535.

  • Report locations where you see water sitting stagnant for more than a week such as roadside ditches, flooded yards and similar locations that may produce mosquitoes. The local health department or city government may be able to add larvicide to the water, which will kill any mosquito larvae.


  • Additional information about West Nile virus can be found on the IDPH website.
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