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West Nile Virus Still Around; Take Precautions



The West Nile virus and a cousin, the LaCrosse encephalitis virus, are still around, said Mike Oricko, Fulton County Health Commissioner.

Since both are passed to humans by mosquito bites, Oricko said the best defense is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

This year, the Ohio Department of Health reports there has been one human illness from the West Nile virus. It occurred in Putnam County.

There have been eight cases of LaCrosse encephalitis across the state, which is also passed by mosquitoes.

With the West Nile virus, the virus is passed from birds to humans by mosquitoes. With the LaCrosse encephalitis virus, the virus is passed from chipmunks or squirrels to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito.

Most persons infected with the West Nile virus will develop no symptoms to mild symptoms. However, the virus can turn into encephalitis– an infection of brain tissue. It can be deadly to the very young, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems.

The federal Centers for Disease Control reports La- Crosse encephalitis disease is usually characterized by fever lasting two to three days, headache, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and lethargy.

The disease can attack the central nervous system, usually in children under the age of 16. Death from LaCrosse encephalitis disease is rare, but can occur.

Prevention

Oricko and the Fulton County Health Department lists these suggestions to avoid mosquito bites:

•Avoid outdoor activities between dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.

•If outdoors, wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts, shoes, and socks, in light colors.

•Use insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, or lemon eucalyptus oil. If using a DEET repellent, use a 30% concentration for adults, 10% or less for children; follow label directions.

•Eliminate mosquito breeding sites; remove discarded, tires, and other water holding containers, such as unused flower pots.

•Make sure roof gutters are clean and drain properly.

•Clean and chlorinate pools, outdoor saunas, and hot tubs; keep empty when not in use; drain water from pool covers.

•Change water in bird baths weekly.

Testing

Fulton County is not conducting any testing for the West Nile virus at this point.

One testing method is to set traps for mosquitoes. When a large group of mosquitoes are caught in a trap, they become a “pool,” and are tested for the virus.

So far, the Ohio Department of Health has reported 110 pools that have tested positive for West Nile.

One of those pools was in neighboring Lucas County.



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