August 14, 2002 at 9:46 PM EST - Updated July 12 at 4:00 AM
*The Cuyahoga County Board of Health is spraying to kill mosquitoes that could possibly be carrying the deadly West Nile virus. For specific spraying information, go to www.ccbh.net or call (216) 443-5679.
By KAREN ROEBUCK, Associated Press Writer
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - A Columbus man and a Cleveland-area woman likely have the state's first human cases of West Nile virus, the Ohio Department of Health said Wednesday.
Department tests on the 26-year-old man and a 76-year-old woman from Cuyahoga County showed indications of West Nile, spokesman Kristopher Weiss said. Two deaths in Mississippi have been linked to the virus, and it has killed seven people this year in Louisiana.
The results still must be confirmed by a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lab in Fort Collins, Colo. The CDC results could be in as soon as Friday, Weiss said.
The department would not release the names of the man or the woman.
Weiss said the man was released from Ohio State University Hospital in good condition, but the woman was in the Southwest General Hospital Wednesday in poor condition.
"We are concerned but not surprised. It was anticipated that we would see human cases," Columbus health Commissioner Teresa Long said.
The tests showed the two had a particular antibody in fluid surrounding the spinal cord or in the blood that indicates West Nile, Weiss said.
The virus was first found in the state in a blue jay in July 2001 and has since been found in mosquitos and at least two horses.
It is carried by mosquitos and can be fatal to birds and horses but rarely to humans.
State Health Director Nick Baird said people should take precautions, such as wearing long sleeves and pants, applying insect repellant and avoiding being outside at dusk and dawn.
Most people bitten by an infected mosquito don't become noticeably ill, but some develop flu-like symptoms, and people with weak immune systems can get encephalitis, a potentially fatal brain infection.
The CDC has said that 145 people have been infected this year in six states and the District of Columbia.
On Tuesday, Florida reported its first human case of West Nile, but health officials said the patient probably got the disease during a recent visit to Louisiana.
The number of states that have found the virus in humans, animals or mosquitoes this year rose to 37 on Tuesday, when South Carolina health officials announced they had found West Nile in a dead bird.
(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)