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City Confirms First Human West Nile Virus Case of Year in Englewood

By Ted Cox | September 23, 2013 4:17pm
 Only mosquitoes transmit the West Nile Virus, not human-to-human contact.
Only mosquitoes transmit the West Nile Virus, not human-to-human contact.
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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

CITY HALL — The city confirmed the first human case of West Nile Virus of the year Monday and warned residents to be vigilant as mosquitoes try to get inside with the onset of fall.

The Chicago Department of Public Health confirmed a case of West Nile Virus in an unnamed Englewood resident in his or her 30s. That person was treated and is recovering at home, according to the department.

"Even though the weather is changing, we must remain vigilant to protect ourselves and our families from West Nile Virus," said Commissioner Bechara Choucair, M.D. "Now that autumn is here, mosquitoes are more likely to seek warmer temperatures indoors. Residents should double check that their windows and doors are tight-fitting and that their screens are free of any holes or tears."

Although the cases of West Nile have been relatively mild this year — with the city reporting about 10 percent of mosquito traps testing positive for traces of the disease, compared with 18 percent last year — it is still a health concern for residents.

Symptoms of West Nile include fever, headache and fatigue, sometimes with a skin rash, and can persist for a few days to a few weeks. Estimates are that 80 percent of those infected show no symptoms, but it can bring on severe illness, especially in those older than 50.

Cook County confirmed one West Nile death this year, a 67-year-old Cicero man.

The health department advises people to wear loose clothing that covers arms and legs and use insect repellent with DEET, Picaridin or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus. Residents should also keep grass and weeds trimmed and empty anything with standing water, as the disease is borne by mosquitoes, not transmitted by human contact.

The department took precautionary measures by spraying for mosquitoes in Auburn Gresham, Forest Glen, Washington Heights, Albany Park, Avondale and Irving Park in July.

In August, spraying occurred in Avondale, Lincoln Park, Logan Square, North Center, Austin, Belmont Cragin, Dunning, Montclare, Portage Park, Avalon Park, Burnside, Chatham, East Garfield Park and Humboldt Park.

Also sprayed in August were Pullman, Roseland, West Garfield Park, Clearing, Chicago Lawn, Edgewater, Lincoln Square, West Lawn and West Ridge.

Edison Park, Norwood Park and O'Hare were sprayed earlier this month.