Elderly Summit County man dies from West Nile Virus

SUMMIT COUNTY, OH (WOIO) - Summit County Health Commissioner Gene Nixon announced that two confirmed human cases of West Nile Virus Encephalitis have recently been reported to Summit County Public Health.

These are the first confirmed human cases of WNV in Summit County since 2002. Unfortunately, a 78-year old resident of New Franklin expired on September 13, 2011. Our sincere sympathies are extended to his family and friends. The second confirmed human case involves a 47-year old resident of Akron who remains hospitalized.

Due to this year's flooding and frequent rains, Summit County Public Health has identified WNV-infected mosquitoes in 20 Summit County communities. The Health District has increased surveillance and mosquito treatment activities to address this year's unusual abundance of mosquitoes.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that about 20 percent of people who become infected with WNV will develop West Nile fever. Symptoms include fever, headache, tiredness, and body aches, occasionally with a skin rash and swollen lymph glands. While the illness can be as short as a few days, even healthy people have reported being sick for several weeks.

The CDC estimates that approximately 1 in 150 persons infected with WNV will develop a more severe form of disease such as West Nile encephalitis or meningitis or West Nile poliomyelitis: Severe symptoms include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis. Serious illness can occur in people of any age, however people over age 50 and some immune-compromised persons (for example, transplant patients) are at the highest risk for getting severely ill when infected with WNV.

Summit County Public Health encourages the help of residents in preventing illness. Individuals can protect themselves and loved ones from West Nile by taking simple preventive steps such as using insect repellent and eliminating containers that can collect water from your property.

To avoid possible infection from mosquito bites:

  • Wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, shoes and socks when outdoors between dawn and dusk since mosquitoes are most active at this time.
  • Light colors are least attractive to mosquitoes. Use insect repellent and follow the label directions.
  • To eliminate mosquito breeding sites near your home:
  • Remove all discarded tires and other water]holding containers, such as tin cans and unused flower pots, from your property.
  • Eliminate standing water from your property.
  • Make sure all roof gutters are clean and properly draining. Clean and chlorinate pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs. Keep them empty when not in use and drain water from pool covers.
  • Change water in bird baths weekly.

Summit County Public Health staff will continue to monitor mosquitoes until the first freeze. Summit County Public Health will continue to work with area physicians and hospitals to quickly identify human cases and determine potential sources of exposure and provide information, education and referral as needed.

For further information, please contact the Environmental Health Division at Summit County Public Health at 330 926-5600 or visit the SCPH web site at www.schd.org

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