The Ohio Department of Health announced last week that a man in Defiance County is the first to die from the West Nile Virus in 2017.
Jamie R. Gerken, Defiance County Health Commissioner, said the man who died was a 74-year-old who had been hospitalized for encephalitis.
Encephalitis is an infection of the brain.
“In general, severe symptoms occur only in less than 1% of people,” Gerken said.
“But those over the age of 60, or who have certain medical conditions such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, kidney failure, or organ transplants, are at a greater risk.”
So far this year, the ODH reported 10 human cases of West Nile Virus across Ohio. Hamilton County had two cases. Eight other counties with human cases of WNV included Clark, Clermont, Cuyahoga, Defi ance, Franklin, Greene, Logan, and Summit.
Kim Cupp, Fulton County Health Commissioner, said when there is news of a West Nile Virus-related death, “it’s a time to emphasize our consistent message. “West Nile Virus is in mosquitoes throughout Ohio and most of the United States. It defi nitely causes people to be a little more cautious about minimizing their potential for mosquito bites.”
The ODH offers several tips to avoid mosquito bites:
•If you are outdoors between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active, wear light-colored long pants, long-sleeved shirts, shoes, and socks.
•Use a mosquito repellent registered with the Environmental Protection Agency; follow label directions.
•Repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out of the home.
•Eliminate standing water around the home: buckets, birdbaths, flower pots, etc.
•Make sure gutters are clean and draining properly.
•Empty childrens wading pools when not in use.
Can Be Mild
Cupp said persons with healthy immune systems can be infected with the virus and develop symptoms. Others can exhibit mild symptoms.
Gerken said when there is a death in-county from a disease like West Nile, “it’s defi nitely something we feel bad about. It’s nothing we like to hear; nothing we like to see.”
She said the death drives health department staff to “continue our mission of prevention, to do our job.
“First and foremost, it affirms our will to do that,” Gerken said.