Dr. William Hablitzel –
The Ohio Department of Health, in partnership with local health districts, collects and tests mosquitoes for viruses that cause mosquito-borne diseases. Six samples from three locations in Adams County—Manchester, Stout, and Peebles—have tested positive for West Nile virus.
West Nile virus was first detected in Ohio in birds and mosquitoes in 2001 and the first human case was reported the following year. It is now established in Ohio where cases occur each year. Most people infected with West Nile virus—about 80-percent—will not show any symptoms of illness. Those who do, the symptoms are typically mild and include fever, headache, body aches, rash, and sometimes nausea and vomiting. Symptoms typically start between two to 14 days after being bitten by an infected Northern House Mosquito, the mosquito that transmits the virus. Very few of those infected—about one in 150—develop severe illness which can effect the nervous system and lead to disability and even death. Adults 50 years of age and older are at greatest risk for severe illness. Most cases of infection in Ohio are in adults 70-79 years of age, particularly men.
As of Aug. 20, West Nile virus has been detected in 52 of Ohio’s 88 counties. There have been five human cases of West Nile virus which includes one fatality. Two blood donors without symptoms have tested positive for the virus. Human cases of West Nile virus infection can occur anytime during Ohio’s mosquito season, typically from May through October.
While it is not a surprise that West Nile virus has been detected in Adams County, the report from the Ohio Department of Health serves as a reminder that mosquitoes can, and do, transmit diseases in Ohio. Eastern equine encephalitis, La Crosse fever, and St. Louis encephalitis are other examples of mosquito-borne diseases that occur locally in Ohio.
The most effective way to prevent mosquito-borne disease is to prevent being bitten. Use EPA-registered insect repellant when you go outdoors. Wear light-colored clothes, long sleeved shirts and long pants, and consider avoiding outdoor activities during peak mosquito biting hours from dusk to dawn. Wearing clothing treated with permethrin can also reduce your risk of being bitten.
Mosquitoes breed in standing water. Reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home by discarding and emptying water-holding containers such as flower pots, buckets, tarps, and old tires. Using products containing Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti), available at many garden and home improvement stores, can control mosquito larvae in containers that are too large to empty. Water set out for pets and animals should be changes frequently.
For more information about West Nile virus and mosquito-borne disease, contact the Adams County Health Department at (937) 544-5547. The Health Department has a limited supply of insect repellant which is free for the asking.