WEB EXTRA!

An Oak Park resident has contracted the West Nile virus, the village reported Friday.

The person is recovering and is not in danger of dying, said Georgeen Polyak, the Oak Park public health director.

“This is the riskiest time of year for West Nile virus,” Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director, said in a statement. “Mosquitoes that carry the virus peak around late summer, so everybody needs to be vigilant against mosquito bites–the season is not over.”

The Illinois Public Health Department announced 10 new cases of the virus Thursday, four of which were in suburban Cook County. Four more were in Chicago and another was in DuPage County.

Suburban Cook County victims included a man in his 60s with West Nile virus fever, and two women in their 40s and a man in his 70s with neuroinvasive disease, according to the IPHD.

Polyak said the Oak Parker with the disease is younger than 65, but would not give any identifying information for privacy concerns. Infectious disease patients are not normally made public at all, she said, however West Nile is unique in that all people are at risk of infection through mosquito bites.

This is the second recorded human case of West Nile, Polyak said.

West Nile fever symptoms include fever, headache, tiredness, and body aches, occasionally with a skin rash on the trunk of the body and swollen lymph glands, according to the state. While the illness can be as short as a few days, even healthy people have reported having symptoms for a year or more, Polyak said.

Neuroinvasive disease includes West Nile encephalitis or meningitis or West Nile poliomyelitis, and symptoms may include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, and paralysis.

It is estimated that about 1 in 5 people who become infected with the virus will develop West Nile fever, while approximately 1 in 150 will develop a more severe disease.

Most people (about 4 out of 5) who are infected with West Nile virus will not develop any type of illness, however, you cannot know ahead of time if you’ll get sick when infected, the state says.

There have been 25 cases reported in Illinois this year. The virus claimed its first human victim Wednesday.

Polyak said the most important line of defense is people covering up and not going outside without bug spray on, especially at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.

“It really needs to be a part of our way of life at this point,” Polyak said. “It’s not a disease you want to trifle with.”

Oak Parkers can expect additional street spraying in coming weeks by the Des Plaines Valley Mosquito Abatement District if virus levels remain high, Polyak said.

“Spraying to kill adult mosquitoes is the control tool of last resort, but that is exactly where we are right now,” she said. “Weather conditions have spawned a bumper crop of disease-carrying mosquitoes and we need to use every tool in our arsenal to combat them.”

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