A Clark County resident has been diagnosed with the West Nile Virus, the first human case of the virus in the county in at least a year.
The virus was first detected in mosquitoes trapped in the county in July and five new mosquito samples tested positive this week, according to Larry Shaffer, Clark County Combined Health District environmental director.
No mosquitoes tested positive for the virus last summer and no Clark County residents were infected with the virus in 2016, he said.
The county took steps to cut down the mosquito population, Shaffer said, in an attempt prevent people from catching the virus. It hosted two tire take-back days where residents turned in more than 7,500 tires. Mosquitoes use tires as breeding grounds because they tend to hold standing water and don’t break down, he said.
It also sprayed in heavily populated areas across the county for mosquitoes. But the human case of the virus shows people should remain alert and prevent mosquito bites, Shaffer said.
“The mosquito activity won’t end until the first frost,” he said.
And while it’s been cool this month, he said it hasn’t been cold enough to wipe out the bugs.
“Try to avoid going outside at night if not necessary,” he said.
People should also use bug spray if they need to be outside at night and wear long sleeves.
“It’s in the public’s hands. They really need to take care of themselves,” he said. “We’ve done the best we can to reduce the mosquito population. People need to take precautions themselves.”
In Ohio, 14 cases of West Nile Virus have been diagnosed in humans, Shaffer said. But he expects more.
“We have clear indication that the virus is here and it’s widespread,” he said.
Samples that have tested positive have been collected from across the county.
“We know that it’s throughout the county and throughout the region,” he said.
The human case of West Nile is alarming for Jeri Butler.
“It worries me,” Butler said. “And I want to do everything I can to protect me and my family.”
She and her family raise cattle and often have standing water on their property.
“We keep an eye on that water trough and when you see the little critters starting to grow then we dump the water,” she said.
She plans to continue to wear bug spray if she has to go outside, she said.
About 80 percent of people who are infected with West Nile won’t show any symptoms, the health district says, but there’s no way to know in advance if you will develop an illness or not. Symptoms usually show up from three to 14 days after they are bitten by the infected mosquito.
The severe symptoms can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. These symptoms may last several weeks and neurological effects may be permanent.
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