MOUNT VERNON — Summer has arrived
and so has mosquito season. As families and friends take to outdoor fun, the
Knox County Health Department cautions residents to use bug and mosquito repellent,
as well as wear long-sleeve clothing during peak mosquito hours, to protect against
Several diseases can be borne from mosquitos in Ohio, including West Nile Virus.
“West Nile is an encephalitis viral infection,” said Terri Hillier of the Knox County Health Department, Environmental Health Division. “It can be very serious, and, like all diseases, it can be more serious for people that are older, children or someone that is dealing with other types of health issues. At this time we haven’t received any communication that in Ohio we have a positive pool of mosquitos with West Nile.”
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, most people infected with WNV show no symptoms, but for the low percentage who do, symptoms may include a fever, headache, body ache, nausea or vomiting. In a small number of severe cases, people have been hospitalized.
The best way to avoid getting West Nile is to avoid mosquito bites, said Hillier.
“The public needs to take precautions if they are out early in the morning or late in the evening, when mosquitoes activity is at its highest, to use some type of approved bug spray that contains some Deet. Also, make sure window and door screens are in place in their homes. The main thing is to make sure they don’t have any standing water in flower pots, abandoned tires or any stagnant ditches on their property, because that’s where the mosquito larvae hatch,” said Hillier.
“It is necessary to report cases because we are starting our spraying schedule and if we are aware where there might be increased mosquito activity that may be related to the dead birds that are found in that area, we can spray,” said Hillier.
This year the health department will not test birds for West Nile, but possible cases of the virus are monitored closely. Hillier advises residents who find dead birds, specifically crows and blue jays, to report them to the health department. The health department will take information on the location of deceased birds and inform residents on how to properly dispose of the remains.
“If we start to see more calls in a certain area, then we will know that it could possibly be related to West Nile,” she said.
Any mammal can get the virus, but the virus is carried by the bird. If the bird is bitten by a mosquito, the mosquito can then infect humans and other animals.
“West Nile became a hot topic in 1999. In 2002, that was the most active year, and there were quite a few deaths including in Ohio. In 2009, there were only two reported confirmed West Nile diseases in the state of Ohio, so there was very low activity last year,” said Hillier.
For more information call the health department at 392-2200 and ask for the environmental divison. If it is after hours, Hillier said residents may call to leave a message or e-mail her at email@example.com to report an incident of dead birds or possible infection.
“If the animal is a dog, cat or horse, the person should contact their veterinarian,” said Hillier, adding that if a person suspects West Nile, the veterinarian can take blood work for testing the cause of death. If the animal was infected with WNV, the health department will be notified.