CUYAHOGA COUNTY, OH (WOIO) - The Cuyahoga County Board of Health has been made aware of the state's first probable case of West Nile Virus. The affected person is a 34-year-old Lakewood man who underwent medical treatment and has recovered.
According to Joe Lynch, the program manager for mosquito control at the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, this is right about the time when, every summer, the first human case of West Nile pops up.
"It's the first case this summer, and it's on time. Usually, it's late July, early August, we have our first human case. The person was ill for a couple of days and is now currently back at work; so they fought off the illness," said Lynch.
In addition, the Ohio Department of Health has confirmed that a mosquito trap in the city of Maple Heights has tested positive for West Nile Virus.
Experts say, in comparison to previous years, going all the way back to the worst year of all for West Nile – 2002 – this year is shaping up nicely.
"This summer, it's pretty quiet compared to average. Normally, we start seeing infected mosquitoes come the end of June. We didn't detect that until later in July. But as far as human cases go, it's kind of on schedule," added Lynch.
A bitter winter left us with a sweet situation when it comes to West Nile for the summer.
"We had a rough winter, and actually, some mosquitoes over winter as adults, so a lot of them were killed off because we had such a terrible winter. So, that's a good thing that we had a bad winter," said Lynch.
"We are coming up on the greatest risk period for exposure," said Dr. Scott Frank, director of the Shaker Heights Health Department. "From August into September, we historically see the number of West Nile Virus human cases increase nationwide so the potential is definitely there for us to see more people become affected."
Both locally and nationally, humans who contract the virus typically report that they did not use mosquito repellent when they were outdoors and before becoming ill. This indicates the urgent need for the public to use repellent when performing yard work, tending a garden or relaxing outside.
CCBH Health Commissioner Terry Allan says preparedness is the best defense when it comes to preventing mosquito bites.
"By taking the proper precautions, you can greatly reduce your risk for exposure," said Allan. "This would include using mosquito repellent, remaining indoors at peak times, covering your arms and legs by wearing appropriate clothing, and eliminating standing water around your home."
Residents and businesses throughout the county are urged to be aware of the ways in which they can decrease their chance for exposure, including when to go outside.
"It is important to stress that daily mosquito activity is most prevalent at dawn and dusk," said Cleveland Department of Public Health Director Toinette Parilla. "If you need to be outdoors during those hours, please be sure to use repellent and follow our recommended guidelines in order to avoid bites and possible infection."
Local officials are asked to remind residents about the importance of taking personal precautions to prevent mosquito bites by placing information and a prevention message on community websites, cable access channels, city marquees, and in printed newsletters.
According to the Centers for Disease Control:
West Nile Virus is most commonly transmitted to humans by mosquitoes. You can reduce your risk of being infected with WNV by using insect repellent and wearing protective clothing to prevent mosquito bites. There are no medications to treat or vaccines to prevent WNV infection. Fortunately, most people infected with WNV will have no symptoms. About 1 in 5 people who are infected will develop a fever with other symptoms. Less than 1 percent of infected people develop a serious, sometimes fatal, neurological illness.
Most people will experience no symptoms. A small number of people, typically less than 1 out of 100, become infected and develop West Nile encephalitis or West Nile meningitis, an inflammation of the brain or the area around the brain which requires hospitalization. In some cases, especially among older persons, it can result in death. Symptoms of severe illness include headache, high fever, stiff neck, mental confusion, muscle weakness, tremors (shaking), convulsions, coma, and paralysis. There is no specific treatment for the West Nile Virus infection.
People who experience symptoms commonly associated with West Nile Virus such as high fever, headaches, muscle aches, vomiting and loss of appetite within two to 15 days after a mosquito bite should contact a doctor.
Guidelines for preventing mosquito activity and reducing human exposure:
-Dispose of containers that collect water, such as buckets, scrap tires, cans, and flower pots.
-Eliminate areas of standing water.
-Repair leaky outdoor faucets that leave puddles.
-Empty and refill bird baths at least once a week.
-Clean, drain and cover pools or hot tubs if not in use.
-Unclog all gutters and drains.
-Fill tree holes with tar or cement.
-Tightly screen all openings of your home.
-Keep children indoors during times of peak mosquito activity - one hour before and one hour after sunset.
-Wear light-colored clothing that covers arms and legs.
-Use insect repellent on both skin and clothing. Repellents should contain DEET, picaridin or lemon eucalyptus oil for skin and permethrin for clothing. Follow label directions.
Please contact the Cuyahoga County Board of Health to report areas of persistent standing water or heavy populations of biting mosquitoes at 216-201-2000.