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DuPage County woman contracts West Nile virus

RTA Executive Director Joe Costello addresses Naperville AreChamber Commerce Hotel AristMonday August 13 2012. | JCunningham~For Sun-Times Media

RTA Executive Director Joe Costello addresses the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce at the Hotel Arista on Monday, August 13, 2012. | Jon Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: September 16, 2012 6:18AM

A woman in DuPage County has West Nile virus, the first in the county this year to get the disease.

The DuPage County Health Department Tuesday afternoon wouldn’t give the woman’s name, but said she was in her 50s and lives in Downers Grove.

The Health Department said that West Nile activity is widespread in DuPage County so the risk of more people getting the disease is strong.

The department is urging residents to be cautious, but not curtail outdoor activities.

West Nile virus is transmitted to people by infected mosquitoes. The best way to prevent West Nile disease is to avoid mosquito bites:

Use insect repellents when you go outdoors.

Wear long sleeves and pants during dawn and dusk.

Install or repair screens on windows and doors. Use air conditioning, if you have it.

Empty standing water from items outside your home such as flowerpots, buckets and kiddie pools.

Approximately one in five people who are infected with the virus will develop symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or rash. Less than 1 percent will develop a serious neurologic illness such as encephalitis. or meningitis (inflammation of the brain or surrounding tissues).

People 50 years old and older and those with certain medical conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease, and organ transplants, are at greater risk for serious illness.

There are no medications to treat, or vaccines to prevent, West Nile virus infection. People with milder illnesses typically recover on their own, although symptoms may last for several weeks. In more severe cases, patients often need to be hospitalized to receive supportive treatment, such as intravenous fluids, pain medication, and nursing care.

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