CHICAGO — A suburban Cook County resident in their 90s is the first human in the state to die from the West Nile virus in 2023, the Illinois Department of Public Health announced Wednesday.

The individual had an onset of symptoms of West Nile virus in early August and died soon after, IDPH added.

The state’s health department confirms 11 non-fatal cases of West Nile virus thus far this year.

Of the 12 human cases reported this year, seven were reported from Cook County, including two in Chicago. To date, Kane, Macon, Madison, Will, and Woodford counties have each reported one human West Nile virus case.

Health officials reminded Illinoisians to prevent West Nile virus by practicing the “3 R’s”

  • Reduce: Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens. Repair or replace screens that have tears or other openings. Try to keep doors and windows shut. 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.
  • Repel: When outdoors, wear shoes and socks, long pants, and a light-colored, long-sleeved shirt, and apply an EPA-registered insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR 3535 according to label instructions. The CDC does not recommend use of products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol on children under 3 years old. Consult a physician before using repellents on children under 3.
  • 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.

Last year, seven deaths from West Nile virus were confirmed by the state. People older than 50 and immunocompromised individuals are at higher risk for severe illness from West Nile virus.