West Nile virus detected locally

No human cases reported in Washington County, yet

From staff reports

West Nile virus has been detected in mosquitoes in Washington County, but no human cases have been reported to authorities.

That doesn’t mean that no cases have occurred.

“West Nile is one of those diseases where people get sick with it but hardly know they were sick,” Washington County Health Commissioner Dick Wittberg said Tuesday.

The county health department gets an annual grant from the state to employ a seasonal worker to trap mosquitoes, Wittberg said. The traps, a net with a battery-powered fan, are set out around the county and the trapped mosquitoes are collected periodically.

“We freeze them and send them off to a lab, where they’re tested for West Nile and other things,” Wittberg said. “There are so many diseases that are mosquito-borne, it’s a good thing to keep our eyes open.”

The most recent batch came back with positive results for West Nile.

As of Sept. 14, the Ohio Department of Health had received reports of 18 human cases in Ohio, none of them in the southeastern quadrant. The case nearest Marietta was reported in Franklin County.

Wittberg said the chances of getting West Nile, even if bitten by a mosquito, are remote, but the precautions against being bitten aren’t difficult.

Some cases, particularly those involving elderly people or those with compromised immune systems, can be serious and even fatal.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the most effective way to avoid West Nile virus disease is to prevent mosquito bites:

¯Use insect repellents when you go outdoors. Repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535 and some oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products provide longer-lasting protection.

¯Wear long sleeves and pants from dusk through dawn when many mosquitoes are most active.

¯Install or repair screens on windows and doors. If you have it, use your air conditioning.

¯Help reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home. Empty standing water from containers such as flower pots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes, discarded tires and birdbaths.