Health Alert: Ohio ranks highest for this dangerous mosquito-borne illness

Health Alert: Ohio ranks highest for this dangerous mosquito-borne illness
The World Health Organization says 216 million people were infected with malaria in 2016 alone killing 445,000. (Source: KCRA/WCBS/CNN/WWOR/GLAXOSMITHKLINE/CNN)

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Rhonda Burkett, of North Canton, just lost her mother-in-law to West Nile Virus.

“They ended up taking her to the ICU because she couldn’t eat, couldn’t talk, was having a hard time breathing. (They) couldn’t figure out what it was, and then they finally decided that it was West Nile,” said Burkett.

Health Alert: Protecting your family against insect-borne diseases

Linda Burkett, of Lewisville, was 80 years old, active and loved to be outside. “(She loved) working in the flower bed, coming out to our house. We live in the country,” said Burkett.

West Nile is a mosquito-borne illness that you hear more often than La Crosse Encephalitis, another mosquito borne illness.

La Crosse Encephalitis mainly affects children under the age of 16.

The latest case of a 7-year-old boy infected with the illness was just reported in Jackson Township, also in the county where Burkett lives.

Turns out, the state of Ohio has had the most cases of La Crosse Encephalitis.

According to the CDC, between 2008 and 2017 there were 179 cases.

This year alone, Ohio has had 10 reported cases.

Jayden Bachus is 13, lives in Jackson Township and is taking precautions.

“I’m just putting on a lot of bug spray and making sure I don’t get bit, not staying outside long,” said Bachus.

After Burkett’s loss, she’s hoping to get the word out, that protecting yourself against mosquitoes is serious business.

“It could have happened to any of us,” said Burkett.

The best way to protect yourself against mosquito bites is to use bug spray, wear long sleeves, long pants and socks.

Also, keep in mind that the mosquitoes that carry La Crosse Encephalitis, in particular, are usually out during the day.

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