The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) has reported the state’s first human West Nile virus case and death in 2019, a 68‐year‐old Lucas County man who was hospitalized with encephalitis.
ODH reported 65 human West Nile virus cases including six deaths in 2018; 34 human cases including five deaths in 2017; and 17 human cases including four deaths in 2016. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it has received reports of 468 human West Nile virus cases from across the country so far this year.
In Ohio, most West Nile virus cases and other diseases transmitted by mosquitoes usually occur from May through October when mosquitoes are most active.
Most people who become infected with West Nile virus do not have any symptoms. About one in five people who become infected develop a fever with other symptoms such as headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash. Less than 1% of infected people develop a serious neurologic illness, such as encephalitis or meningitis – inflammation of the brain or surrounding tissues. There are no medications to treat or vaccines to prevent West Nile virus infection.
“The primary way people get West Nile virus is through the bite of an infected mosquito,” said ODH Director Amy Acton, MD, MPH. “I encourage all Ohioans and communities to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites in order to prevent mosquito‐borne diseases.”
Mosquitoes can live indoors and outdoors, and some types bite during the day while others bite at dusk and dawn. Here are some tips to avoid mosquito bites:
– Use EPA‐registered repellents according to label instructions.
– Wear long sleeves, long pants, and long socks when outdoors.
– Mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing, so spraying clothes with an EPA‐registered repellent will give extra protection.
– Treat clothing and gear such as pants, boots, socks, and tents with a product containing permethrin, or buy permethrin‐treated clothing or gear. Do not apply permethrin directly to skin.
Mosquito‐proof your home:
– Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes outside.
– Help reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home by emptying standing water on a regular basis from flower pots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes, discarded tires, and birdbaths.