SPRINGFIELD - Two people in Illinois have died from West Nile virus, becoming the state's first deaths from the illness this year.
The Chicago Department of Health has confirmed the sickness claimed the lives of a woman in her seventies and another woman in her eighties. Statewide, health officials have reported 15 human cases of West Nile virus.
"Although we've seen a cooler and wetter summer, which has resulted in less West Nile activity, these deaths show the virus is circulating and can cause death," said Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck, Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health.
West Nile virus is most commonly transmitted to humans by mosquitoes. No medications exist to treat or vaccines to prevent West Nile infection. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about one in five people who are infected will develop a fever with other flu-like symptoms. Less than one percent develop a serious illness.