The Cook County Department of Public Health confirmed on Wednesday that there has been a fatality due to West Nile disease in suburban Cook County, the first in nearly 60 cases of the disease seen in the communities served by the CCDPH.
A CCDPH spokeswoman confirmed that the death occurred in the south region of suburban Cook and that the victim was between 70 and 79 years old. No further information was released, to protect the victim’s identity.
CCDPH, which serves all of Cook County except the locations with their own public health departments—including Oak Park, as well as Chicago, Evanston, Skokie and any of Stickney Township—reports 59 confirmed human cases of West Nile so far, and over 360 disease-positive mosquito pools.
The Oak Park Public Health Department, a separate entity, told Patch that there have been two non-fatal cases of West Nile in Oak Park this year, as well as 40 disease-positive pools in July and August alone, as opposed to only four in the first eight months of 2011.
Only a very small percentage of particular species of mosquitoes carry the West Nile virus, and only a very small percentage of persons bit by an infected mosquito will catch the disease, the CCDPH said, while still encouraging residents to “Fight the Bite.”
“We are seeing fewer hot, dry days but the virus continues to circulate and residents still need to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites,” said CCDPH interim chief operating officer Sandra Martell in a press release.
“Residents should continue to use mosquito repellant with DEET anytime they have to be outside and always wear light, loose fitting clothing when outdoors between dusk and dawn. These two steps of personal protection and removing standing water around your home continue to be the best defense against West Nile virus.”
The symptoms of West Nile include fever, headache, body aches, stiff neck and muscle weakness. The disease can cause drastically increased risk of meningitis or encephalitis in people with health conditions or those 50 or older.