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Ill. reports first human cases of West Nile virus

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(via Flickr/James Jordan)
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Two men in Illinois are the first people in the state to test positive for West Nile virus. Missouri has no reported human cases.

Two men in Illinois are the first human cases of West Nile virus in the state.

The Illinois Department of Public Health says a Cook County man in his 80s got sick earlier this month. A 30-year-old from south-central Illinois became ill in July. In 2010, the first human case was reported on Aug. 31 - 61 people eventually tested positive.

"West Nile virus activity in mosquitoes and birds continues to increase across Illinois, which means a higher risk of people contracting the virus," said Illinois Department of Public Health director Damon Arnold. "People should protect themselves against mosquitoes by wearing insect repellant and getting rid of any standing water around their homes."

Thirteen Illinois counties have reported finding the virus in mosquitoes, birds or humans. The first positive samples showed up June 8.

The West Nile virus is rarely fatal, and just 20 percent of people who are bitten by an infected mosquito ever feel sick, though serious illness, including meningitis, is possible.

The state of Missouri has yet to report any human cases of the disease, though animals have tested positive.

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.

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