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West Nile virus found in Youngstown mosquito

By Amanda Tonoli

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Staff report

YOUNGSTOWN

An Ohio Department of Health spokesman said it’s up to the Youngstown City Health District to determine the next steps for responding to a mosquito carrying the West Nile virus found on the East Side.

The health district was notified Monday by the Ohio Department of Health that one of the mosquitoes tested from one of the local health district’s traps was confirmed positive for carrying West Nile virus.

The trap was located at Johnson Park in the Sharonline neighborhood on the far East Side and sampled the week of July 8.

Tara Cioffi, Youngstown Environmental Health/ Air Pollution director, could not be reached to comment throughout Tuesday as to what will happen next.

A bite from a mosquito carrying West Nile Virus can cause severe headache, fever, aches, joint pain, diarrhea, vomiting and rash. Most people – eight out of 10 – will not develop any symptoms.

Serious illness associated with virus is rare, but can include central nervous system disorders including encephalitis and/or meningitis.

There is no vaccine or antiviral treatment for West Nile Virus, so the most effective way to avoid infection is to prevent the mosquito bite.

Concerned city residents can contact the health district at 330-742-8230 to schedule an on-site consultation.

The Ohio Department of Health also reported the state’s first human West Nile virus case in 2018, a 71-year-old Lake County man who required hospitalization Tuesday.

So far this year, 20 Ohio counties have reported West Nile virus activity in mosquitoes collected and tested as part of statewide surveillance. Last year, ODH reported 34 human West Nile virus cases, including five deaths.

In Ohio, diseases transmitted by infected mosquitoes most often occur from May through October.

“West Nile virus activity in mosquitoes is the highest Ohio has seen this early in the season since 2012 when we reported 122 human cases for the year,” said Sietske de Fijter, state epidemiologist and chief of the ODH Bureau of Infectious Diseases, in a statement. “We are encouraging Ohioans to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites, including by eliminating potential breeding sites around their homes, in order to prevent mosquito-borne diseases like West Nile virus.”

For information, visit cdc.gov/westnile/index.html or odh.ohio.gov/en/odhprograms/bid/zdp/diseases/wnv.