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West Nile-positive mosquitoes rise in parts of NEOhio; how to stay safe outdoors over Labor Day

by Sep 3, 2022Health

The number of West Nile-positive mosquito pools have increased in some Northeast Ohio counties since mid-August, according to state health officials, making it important that Labor Day revelers take steps to avoid mosquito bites when outdoors.

In Cuyahoga County, West Nile-positive mosquitos have been found in Bratenahl, Cleveland Heights, Euclid, Linndale, Parma Heights, Rocky River, Shaker Heights and South Euclid, according to the Cuyahoga County Board of Health. These cities reported evidence of West Nile virus in mid-August.

West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne disease that can cause serious illness. Mosquitoes infected with the virus are usually seen in late July, and peak in August.

Across Northeast Ohio, evidence of West Nile virus also has been found in Lake, Lorain, Portage and Summit counties, according to state health officials. 

Cuyahoga County has 11 mosquito pools that tested positive for West Nile virus, and Lorain County has 14, according to state data.

Portage County and Kent health officials combined reported 11 mosquito pools that tested positive for West Nile virus. Summit County and Barberton health officials combined reported 15 West Nile-positive mosquito pools, according to state data.

The number of West Nile-positive mosquito pools have increased in Lorain and Portage counties since mid-August.

West Nile-positive mosquitos have not been detected in Ashtabula or Medina counties; data was not available for Geauga County.

Traps to find West Nile-carrying mosquitoes have been set up across the state. Traps are sent to the Ohio Department of Health  Ofor testing, and combined into pooled samples. Cities are notified if the virus is detected there.

An average of 58 human cases of West Nile virus infection are reported each year in Ohio. In 2012, a surge in West Nile virus spread resulted in 122 human cases of West Nile and 7 deaths in Ohio. Last year, the state recorded 13 cases and one death from West Nile disease.

Ways to prevent mosquito bites and stop breeding

– Use insect repellent containing picaridin or lemon eucalyptus oil.

– Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors.

– Stay indoors during times of peak mosquito activity, which is one hour before and after sunrise and sunset.

– Get rid of containers that collect water, including buckets, tires, cans and flower pots.

– Unclog gutters so they drain properly.

– Repair screens on doors and windows.

– Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas, and hot tubs. Keep them covered when empty.

– Empty and change the water in bird baths, fountains, wading pools, rain barrels, and potted trays at least once a week.

– Check for water in children’s toys.

– Fill or drain puddles, ditches, and swampy areas. Remove, drain, or fill tree holes and stumps with mortar.

– Eliminate standing water around animal watering troughs.

– Irrigate lawns and gardens carefully to prevent water from standing for several days.

What is West Nile?

West Nile virus is most commonly spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito, according to the U.S. Centers for disease Control and Prevention. 

Cases of West Nile virus occur during mosquito season, which lasts summer through fall. There are no vaccines to prevent or medications to treat the illness.

Fortunately, most people who are infected do not feel sick. About 1 in 5 people who are infected develop a fever and other symptoms, such as high fever, vomiting, headaches, muscle aches and loss of appetite. Fatigue and weakness can last for weeks or months.

One in 150 people with West Nile virus develop a severe illness affecting the central nervous system, such as encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord).

Seek medical attention if symptoms persist two to 10 days after a mosquito bite.

Mosquito West Nile virus

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