SPRINGFIELD, Ill., Sept. 30 (UPI) -- Illinois public health officials say a second person has died of West Nile encephalitis this year as the number of cases rose to 44.
The latest fatality in the state was a 61-year-old suburban Chicago woman hospitalized with a West Nile infection earlier this month. She died Sept. 23. A 58-year-old DuPage County man died of West Nile encephalitis Sept. 1, said Dr. Eric Whitaker, state public health director.
The mosquito-borne virus normally peaks in August and September. Two cases were reported Thursday, a 46-year-old suburban Cook County woman and a 53-year-old Wabash County man.
The 44 confirmed human cases of the disease this year is 10 fewer than the 54, including one death, reported in 2003.
Illinois led the nation in human cases of West Nile disease in 2002 with 884 cases and 66 deaths. Only about 20 percent of people bitten by an infected mosquito will experience any symptoms, ranging from headache, fever and body aches to encephalitis and meningitis.
At least 1,784 U.S. cases including 57 deaths have been reported to the national Centers for Disease Control.