CHICAGO (CBS) — A Cook County man in his 60s who was diagnosed with West Nile in August is the first person in Illinois to die from the mosquito-borne virus this year, according to state health officials.

The man, who was not identified, had underlying health conditions when he died earlier this month, according to a release from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH).

“Although temperatures have been cooler recently, we continue to see West Nile virus activity across Illinois,” IDPH Director Dr. Damon T. Arnold said. “People need to continue to protect themselves against mosquito bites by using insect repellent or staying indoors.”

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Currently, the state is reporting eight human cases of the virus in Illinois. The first were reported on Aug. 19 — a Cook County man in his 80s and a Franklin County man in his 30s.

So far this year, 17 counties have reported mosquito batches, birds or people testing positive for West Nile virus. The first positive results were collected on June 8 and included two birds from LaSalle County.

Last year, 30 of the state’s 102 counties were found to have a West Nile positive bird, mosquito, horse or human case. A total of 61 human cases, including four deaths, were reported.

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

Common West Nile virus symptoms include fever, nausea, headache and muscle aches. Symptoms may last from a few days to a few weeks. However, four out of five people infected with West Nile virus will not show any symptoms. People older than 50 are at higher risk for severe illness.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2010. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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