McLean County has its first human case of West Nile virus in five years. Health Department Spokeswoman Kera Simon says a 73 year old Bloomington man was hospitalized early this month and his illness is now confirmed as West Nile.
"He wasn't outside a whole lot. He wasn't near stagnant water. I really think this was a case of just a normal every day, being outside and being exposed to West Nile virus carying mosquitoes."
She says most people bitten by infected mosquitoes show no symptoms, but about 20% do.
"The bad news is that West Nile virus causes brain swelling. So, mild symptoms can be a slight fever or a headache whereas more severe symptoms can be a very high fever, disorientation, paralysis and encephalitis."
Simon urges people to wear insect repellant and protective clothing when outside around the peak mosquito times of dawn and dusk. West Nile season, she says, has a while to run until Culex mosquito carriers go dormant for the year.
"So once the temperatures are regularly below 55 degrees is when the cutoff is. But, we're going to see fluctuations in temperature now until November."
Simon says five birds in Bloomington Normal have also tested positive this year for the virus. Health officials urge people to take precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. The Centers for Disease Control notes this is a significant year for West Nile cases due to the drought.
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