Ohio man dies from West Nile virus; first reported death in 2019

Ohio man dies from West Nile virus; first reported death in 2019
Public health officials in Northern Indiana said the virus was found in three horses and a cluster of mosquitoes in Elkhart County. (Source: Pexels.com)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WOIO) - The Ohio Department of Health has reported the state’s first human West Nile virus and death case of 2019.

According to ODH, the 68-year-old Lucas County man was hospitalized with encephalitis and then died.

ODH says that there were 65 human West Nile virus cases including six deaths in 2018; 34 human cases including five deaths in 2017; and 17 human cases including four deaths in 2016. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, it has received reports of 468 human West Nile virus cases from across the United States in 2019.

In Ohio, most diseases transmitted by mosquitoes usually occur from May to October when mosquitoes are most active.

Most who are infected by the virus do not have any symptoms of the West Nile virus.

About one in five people who become infected develop symptoms such as:

  • Headaches
  • Body aches
  • Joint pains
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Rashes

Less than one percent of people develop a serious neurologic illness, such as encephalitis or meningitis, which causes inflammation of the brain or surrounding tissues. There is no treatment to prevent the West Nile virus.

“The primary way people get West Nile virus is through the bite of an infected mosquito,” said ODH Director Amy Acton, MD, MPH. “I encourage all Ohioans and communities to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites in order to prevent mosquito-borne diseases.”

Here are some tips on how to avoid mosquito bites:

  • Use EPA-registered repellents according to label instructions.  
  • Wear long sleeves, long pants, and long socks when outdoors.
  • Mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing, so spraying clothes with an EPA-registered repellent will give extra protection.  
  • Treat clothing and gear such as pants, boots, socks, and tents with a product containing permethrin, or buy permethrin-treated clothing or gear. Do not apply permethrin directly to the skin.

How to mosquito-proof your home:

  • Install or repair screens on windows and doors.
  • Empty standing water on a regular basis from items such as flowerpots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, and pet water dishes.

Learn more about mosquitos and the West Nile virus on the ODH website at www.odh.ohio.gov/wnv.

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