No human cases, but health department says West Nile found in Portsmouth

By Tom Corrigan - [email protected]

The Portsmouth City Health Department reported Thursday three local mosquito pools have tested positive for the West Nile Virus.

The department also quickly noted while breeding sites have tested positive, no human infections have been reported.

The health department described West Nile virus (WNV) as an arthropod-borne virus (arbovirus) spread by the bite of infected mosquitoes.

Most people are infected in Ohio by the northern house mosquito, culex pipiens. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds. Infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to humans and other animals when they bite.

As of July 30, 32 Ohio counties had positive tests for West Nile Virus in mosquitoes and two human cases of West Nile Virus have been reported to the Ohio Department of Health.

Approximately 80 percent of people who are infected with West Nile virus will not show any symptoms, but there is no way to know in advance if you will develop an illness or not. Those who do develop symptoms usually do so between two to 14 days after they are bitten by an infected mosquito.

Common symptoms can last for a few days to as long as several weeks and might include fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting, swollen lymph glands, rash on chest, stomach or back or fever.

Signs of a severe infection can include a high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss and numbness.

In Ohio, mosquito-borne illnesses are most often transmitted during the warmest months, May through October.

The most effective way to prevent mosquito-borne diseases is to prevent being bitten by mosquitoes by using insect repellents when you go outdoors:

• Apply repellents registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on exposed skin EPA-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breastfeeding women.

• Wear clothing treated with permethrin or another EPA-registered repellent for extra protection and use products according to label instructions to optimize safety and effectiveness.

• Don’t spray repellents on the skin under your clothing.

The county warns residents to take extra care during peak mosquito biting hours:

• Take extra care to use repellents from dusk to dawn.

• Wear light-colored clothing, long-sleeved shirts or jackets and long pants to protect against mosquito bites.

• Consider avoiding outdoor activities during peak mosquito biting hours.

• Use mosquito netting when sleeping outdoors or in an unscreened structure.

Importantly, don’t let mosquitoes breed around your home:

• Empty standing water from flowerpots, buckets, barrels, tarps/covers and wheel barrows on a regular basis.

• Discard trash such as tin cans, plastic containers and other water-holding containers that have accumulated on your property.

• Dispose of discarded tires properly. Drill holes in tire swings so water drains out.

• Change the water in pet dishes frequently.

• Replace the water in bird baths weekly.

• Check and clean clogged roof gutters at least twice annually so they will drain properly.

• Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, even those that are not being used.

• Keep children’s wading pools empty and, on their sides, when they aren’t being used.

For more information concerning West Nile Virus, mosquito bite prevention or our mosquito control program please contact the Portsmouth City Health Department’s Environmental Health Division at (740) 353-5153.

By Tom Corrigan

[email protected]