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West Nile Virus Concerns Return With Recent Rains

Several Persons Treated For Possible Exposure To Rabies


While no Fulton County residents have suffered from infections caused by the West Nile virus, several county residents have received treatment for rabies.

Mosquitoes, which spread West Nile virus to humans, have been the victims of the hot, dry summer in the Archbold area.

But Mike Oricko, Fulton County health commissioner, said it’s still West Nile Virus season.

“If we get more rain, we need to pay attention until the frost,” he said.

West Nile, first discovered in Ohio in 2001, is a virus passed to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. Most people who are infected show no symptoms, or show mild symptoms such as fever, headache, and body aches.

However, on rare occasions, the virus can cause West Nile encephalitis, an infection of the brain that can be fatal. Very young children and the elderly are specifically at risk.

This year, Oricko said state officials reported there have been only two cases of persons made ill by the virus- one in Lorain County, and one in Ottawa.

The virus has been detected in mosquito pools in Lucas County, the closest county to Fulton to report a positive test of the virus. So far, there have been no positive test results in Fulton County.

Mosquitoes require standing water to breed. Renewed rainfall will refill areas where the insects breed, resulting in more mosquitoes.

Property owners should eliminate areas of standing water on their land by cleaning gutters, turning empty buckets or child swimming pools upside down, etc.

Individuals can protect themselves from mosquito bites by staying indoors from dusk until dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.

If you must be out, wear light-colored long pants and long-sleeved shirts, and use a mosquito repellent containing the chemical DEET.

Rabies

Health Department officials said several county residents have started post-exposure rabies shots after encounters with bats and a raccoon.

One person was bitten while removing a burr from a baby raccoon; another reached out to pick up what he thought was paper trash, and was startled when the trash turned out to be a bat, which then bit the person.

In such cases, the animal was not available for testing, and could be carrying the disease.

The post-exposure treatment includes five injected doses of the rabies vaccine. Rabies infections can be deadly.

The disease is typically found in wild animals- bats, skunks, and raccoons. Pets can contract the illness after being bitten by a wild animal, which is why they should be immunized.

Avoid Contact

To avoid rabies, persons should avoid contact with wild animals.

In some cases, bats can find their way into homes. If there has been no contact between humans or domestic animals, the bat can be allowed to leave.

If a person has been bitten, scratched, or had other direct contact, the Health Department recommends waiting until the animal lands, covering it with a coffee can or bucket, sliding a piece of cardboard underneath, then taping the container shut.

Then contact the Health Department to arrange for testing.


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