West Nile Virus Mosquitoes on the Rise in Ohio

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The first case of West Nile Virus this year has been reported in Ohio, and state health officials say 2012 could be as bad as the outbreak 10 years ago.

The first case of West Nile is an 85-year-old man from Clermont County, near Cincinnati, who is being treated in a hospital.

Summertime brings a lot of outdoor fun, but it also means mosquitoes and a threat for the  virus.

“It’s a type of virus that typically gets transferred by mosquitoes to humans from infected birds,” said Dr. Jeffrey Luk, an emergency room physician at University Hospitals Case Medical Center.

Dr. Jeffrey Luk is an emergency room physician at University Hospitals Case Medical Center. He says the majority of people who get the virus from an infected mosquito don’t get sick, but for people who do, the consequences can be serious.

“They may get generalized symptoms, flulike illnesses such as fever, chills, headache. It may actually progress to more severe diseases such as seizure, or acute mental status changes or altered, most of the time in the elderly,” Dr. Luk.

State health officials predict this could be a bad year for West Nile. So far, 374 mosquito pools around the state have tested positive for the virus. This time last year, 59 tested positive. In 2002, when 441 cases were reported and 31 people died, there were 299 positive pools by the end of July.

“I have a gazillion bites, but no, I’m not concerned about it really … there’s so much things to worry about. If it’s gonna happen, it’s gonna happen … all you can do is do what you can, be safe, use bug spray and just, you know, go about your day,” said Karen Jones.

Health officials say using insect repellent is important to prevent getting a mosquito bite.  They also suggest eliminating places with standing water, such as old tires and flower pots. Also, wear long sleeves and light colors, which are less attractive to mosquitoes.

“During the summer, it’s hard to wear long sleeves and long pants, but I do wear mosquito repellent, bug repellent, it seems to do the job, it keeps them away,” said Cleveland resident Gabrielle Calabrese.

“I’ve never been concerned about West Nile; I use “Off” regularly, I think I’ll be safe,” said Greenville, Ohio, resident Lucas Witters.

Some people might think that because it has been so dry, there would not be a huge mosquito problem. But state health officials say the type of mosquito that transmits West Nile virus does well in drought-like conditions.

*For more information on the West Nile Virus, click HERE.

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