COLUMBUS, Ohio (CGE) – The Ohio Dept. of Health confirmed Tuesday morning that two humans have contracted West Nile Virus [WNV] so far this year. ODH also reported that it has measured a sharp increase in the number of WNV-positive mosquitoes.
The report said a case of WNV meningitis was confirmed in a 19-year-old female who was hospitalized in Cuyahoga County, Ohio’s most populous county located along Lake Erie, while a 14-year-old male in Putnam County, in west central Ohio, was confirmed with WNV fever but was not hospitalized. Both teenagers are said to be recovering.
Meanwhile, the number of WNV-positive mosquito pools in the State of Ohio increased from 52 to 450 during the month of August, the report said, reminding that because humans most often get WNV from the bite of an infected mosquito, ODH reminds Ohioans to take steps to help prevent infection.
“We see human cases of West Nile virus each year in Ohio,” Ted Wymyslo, M.D., ODH Director, said. “You can protect yourself and your loved ones from West Nile by taking simple preventive steps such as using insect repellent and eliminating containers that can collect water from your property.”
Among defenses people should use is to wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, shoes and socks – light colors are least attractive to mosquitoes. Use insect repellent and follow the label directions.
To eliminate mosquito breeding sites near your home, ODH advised removing from your property all discarded tires and other water-holding containers like tin cans and unused flower pots. Additionally, standing water should be eliminated.
Check to make sure all roof gutters are clean and properly draining. Clean and chlorinate pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs and keep them empty when not in use, and drain water from pool covers. Change water in bird baths weekly.
ODH said WNV can have no symptoms, or can lead to West Nile fever or severe West Nile disease. Most people (about 4 out of 5) who are infected with West Nile virus will not develop any type of illness, but “you cannot know ahead of time if you’ll get sick or not when infected.”
ODH included information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that estimated that about 20 percent of people who become infected with WNV will develop West Nile fever. Symptoms include fever, headache, tiredness, and body aches, occasionally with a skin rash and swollen lymph glands. Even though the illness can be as short as a few days, CDC said that even “healthy people have reported being sick for several weeks.”
Chances of developing a more severe form of disease such as West Nile encephalitis or meningitis or West Nile poliomyelitis are approximately 1 in 150 persons infected with WNV. Severe symptoms include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis.
WNV can infect irrespective of age. A serious illness can occur in people of any age, however people over age 50 and some immunocompromised persons (for example, transplant patients) are at the highest risk for getting severely ill when infected with WNV, the CDC reported.
Ohio has recorded human cases of WNV each year since 2002 when there were 441 cases. There were 108 in 2003, 12 in 2004, 61 in 2005, 48 in 2006, 23 in 2007, 15 in 2008, 2 in 2009 and 5 in 2010.
In other news on disease in Ohio, ODH confirmed eight cases of La Crosse encephalitis virus (LACV) in 2011. It’s a mosquito-borne virus, similar to WNV, which affects mostly children and teenagers and is transmitted by the treehole mosquito, Aedes triseriatus. Many people infected with LACV have no apparent symptoms, but among people who become ill, initial symptoms include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, and tiredness. ODH said that some of those who become ill develop a disease that affects the nervous system. Severe LACV disease often involves encephalitis (an inflammation of the brain) and can include seizures, coma, and paralysis. Severe disease occurs most often in children under the age of 16.
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