The virus is a public health concern because mosquitoes carrying it can infect humans.
By NORMAN LEIGH
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
LISBON -- Columbiana County Health Department officials are continuing to stress avoiding mosquito contact in the wake of three more confirmed cases of West Nile virus in birds in the county.
The three newest cases bring the number of dead birds found to be infected with the virus in the county this year to four, Dantan Hutton of the county health department said today.
A blue jay was discovered July 1 at a residence along Georgetown Road in Salem Township.
Another blue jay was found June 27 at a home on Pine View Drive in St. Clair Township.
Also on June 27, a grackle was found at a home along Maple Avenue in Wellsville.
The dead birds were reported to the county health department, which had them tested by the state.
The previous case was reported last month after a dead blue jay was found along Willow Lane in Wellsville.
Public health concern
Birds, particularly blue jays, can be infected from mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus.
The virus is a public health concern because mosquitoes bearing it can infect humans with West Nile encephalitis, an infection of the brain and spinal cord.
Many people will not know they have been exposed. Those who develop symptoms of the virus -- headache and fever -- generally recover. In some severe cases, hospitalization may be needed.
No West Nile encephalitis cases have been reported in Columbiana County, Hutton said.
West Nile is primarily transmitted by mosquitoes. The virus cannot be transmitted from person to person.
What to do
There is no vaccine for the illness. People can best protect themselves by avoiding being bitten by mosquitoes.
Health officials suggest wearing light-colored, long-sleeved shirts and pants when possible, and they advise using mosquito repellent.
Officials also recommend eliminating items outdoors that can gather standing water, which can turn stagnant and become a place where mosquitoes lay their eggs.
Those items include discarded tires, buckets, barrels, old toys, cans and pet bowls.
Water in birdbaths should be changed periodically.