Two Ohioans, one infected with the West Nile Virus, the other with the H3N2v virus, have died.
The Ohio Department of Health confirmed last week that a 61-year-old Madison County woman had died. Testing conducted by the ODH laboratory indicated she had been infected with the H3N2v influenza virus.
“The patient had multiple other underlying medical conditions, but the influenza virus may have contributed to the death,” ODH officials said in a press release.
Madison County is located in west-central Ohio.
ODH also reported a 76- year-old Hamilton County man died Wednesday, Aug. 29, after being hospitalized with West Nile encephalitis.
Encephalitis is inflammation of the brain.
Hamilton County is in southwest Ohio.
The H3N2v virus can be transmitted from people to pigs, and vice versa. Earlier this summer, there were several reports of people becoming ill after visiting county fairs.
A few cases of youths becoming ill with H3N2v influenza after being around pigs at the Henry County Fair were reported.
The Madison County woman who died “had direct contact with swine at the Ross County fair before becoming ill,” the ODH press release said.
As of Sunday, Sept. 2, the Ohio Department of Health reported there were 102 confi rmed cases of H3N2v influenza statewide.
Butler County, in southwest Ohio, had the highest number of confirmed cases, at 17, followed by Champaign County, in west central Ohio, with 15, and Gallia, in southern Ohio, with 12.
None of the other 22 counties in Ohio that reported H3N2v flu had more than eight.
Neighboring Henry County had six reported cases of H3N2v influenza.
The Centers for Disease Control website reported that through Aug. 30, 10 states reported H3N2v influenza cases.
Indiana had the largest number, with 138.
West Nile Virus
ODH reports that so far in 2012, 49 human cases of West Nile Virus influenza, known as West Nile Fever, have been reported, along with 960 positive mosquito samples.
At the same time in 2011, ODH had recorded two human cases and 450 positive mosquito samples.
The West Nile Virus is transmitted when an infected mosquito bites a human.
Of those infected with the West Nile virus, only about 20% will become ill with West Nile Fever, which has flu-like symptoms.
In about 1 out of 150 cases (less than 1%), a person infected with the virus will develop much more serious forms of the disease, know as West Nile encephalitis, West Nile meningitis, or West Nile poliomyelitis.
Meningitis refers to an infection in the tissue surrounding the brain; poliomyelitis refers to an infection of the spinal cord.
All three can be deadly.
Human cases of West Nile Virus were first reported in Ohio in 2002. The worst year for WNV-related illnesses was in 2003, when there were 108 cases reported.
This year, the CDC reports Texas has been hard hit by the West Nile Virus. The Lone Star State has reported 733 human cases involving WNV, with 30 deaths. No other state comes close.
Ted Wymyslo, a physician and director of ODH, said in a press release, “H3N2v, like many other viruses, has the greatest potential to impact those with weakened immune systems.
“We have been seeing a mild illness in most individuals infected with the H3N2v virus, so there’s no need for alarm.
“However, it is important for those at-risk individuals to take extra precautions like avoiding swine exhibits to protect themselves.”
Most of those who have become ill with H3N2v influenza have recovered on their own, or were treated and released after a short hospital stay.
The ODH recommends that children under 5, people 65 years and older, pregnant women, and people with certain chronic conditions such as asthma and other lung diseases, diabetes, heart disease, weakened immune systems, or neurologic or neurodevelopmental disorders should avoid exposure to pigs and swine barns.
•Wash hands frequently, with soap and running water before and after exposure to animals;
•Never eat, drink, or put anything in your mouth in animal areas;
•Leave baby strollers parked outside areas with pigs;
•Avoid contact with animals that look or act ill;
•Avoid contact with swine if experiencing flu-like symptoms.
Precautions For WNV
In a press release, Fulton County Health Department officials laid out several precautions to take to avoid WNV.
•Wear long pants, longsleeved shirts, shoes and socks outdoors, especially between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active;
•Wear light-colored clothes, which are least attractive to mosquitoes;
•Use insect repellents; follow label directions.
Also, the health department recommends eliminating possible mosquito breeding sites by ridding your property of standing water such as unused pools, buckets, or old tires left outdoors. Change water in birdbaths weekly.