(WAND) - The first confirmed human case of West Nile virus in Illinois for 2019 is being reported by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

A Chicago man in his 70s became sick late last month.

“Although the first human case of West Nile virus this year in Illinois has been reported a little later than we typically see, it is important to remember that there is an ongoing risk of disease from a mosquito bite,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike.  “West Nile virus can cause serious illness in some people so it’s important that you take precautions like wearing insect repellent and getting rid of stagnant water around your home.”

74 counties in Illinois reported a West Nile virus positive mosquito batch, bird, horse,  and/or human case last year. IDPH reported 176 human cases, including 17 deaths. 

West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of a house mosquito, which has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird. 

Symptoms include fever, nausea, headache and muscle aches. They can last from a few days to a few weeks. 

Four out of five people infected with West Nile virus will not show any symptoms.

In rare cases, severe illness including meningitis, or even death, can occur. 

People older than 60 and those with weakened immune systems are at higher risk for severe illness.

Take precautions against West Nile by:

  • Making sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens. 
  • Eliminate, or refresh each week, all sources of standing water where mosquitoes can breed, including water in bird baths, ponds, flowerpots, wading pools, old tires, and any other containers.
  • 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 according to label instructions.  Consult a physician before using repellents on infants.
  • 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.