Illinois health officials: Will County resident dies from West Nile Virus

The Illinois Department of Public Health is reporting a Will County resident is the first human West Nile virus-related death in the state for 2021.

The resident became sick in late August, tested positive for West Nile shortly after and has since died, IDPH said.

"Although we are already into fall, we are expecting a warm weekend and West Nile virus remains a risk until the first hard frost," IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in a statement.

So far this year, 40 human cases of West Nile has been reported in Illinois. In 2020, 42 human cases were reported, including four deaths.


West Nile is transmitted through a mosquito bite, according to IDPH. Common symptoms are fever, nausea, headache and muscle aches. Symptoms can last for a few days or weeks.

IDPH says four out of five people infected with West Nile will not show symptoms. Those at greater risk for severe illness — including meningitis, encephalitis or even death — include people older than 50 and immunocompromised individuals.

IDPH warns residents to practice the three "R’s."

  • REDUCE – eliminate or refresh each week, all sources of standing water. Repair or replace screens that have tears or other openings.
  • REPEL - when outdoors, wear shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, and apply insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR 3535.
  • REPORT – 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.

"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," Dr. Ezike said.

More information can be found on the IDPH website.