YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — After two Valley communities have reported positive cases of mosquitos with the West Nile virus, residents in those areas are being cautioned to protect themselves and take measures to stop mosquito breeding.
West Nile cases are detected locally just about every year. It’s the leading mosquito-borne illness in the U.S. People get infected by getting bitten by an infected mosquito.
Most people (8 in 10) infected with the West Nile virus never develop symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control. One in five will develop a fever, headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or a rash. Most completely recover, but fatigue and weakness can last for weeks or months.
West Nile virus is a concern because it could lead to serious complications. About 1 in 150 infected people develop serious and sometimes fatal illness, according to the CDC. About 1 in 10 people who develop serious illness affecting the central nervous system die.
The CDC tracks where West Nile is most prevalent. So far this year, there have been 190 cases of human West Nile virus in the U.S. with 27 states reporting human cases. Thirty Ohio counties have detected West Nile in mosquito samples, according to the Ohio Department of Health. There have been no reported human cases fo far this year in Ohio.
In 2022, there were seven West Niles humans cases in Ohio. Three were female and four were male with a median age of 52. Those cases were in Montgomery, Franklin and Cuyahoga counties. There were also three cases of West Niles virus in horses.
Locally, Columbiana County detected the virus in mosquitos and also in Mercer County, Pennsylvania. In Mercer County, there was a positive test in July and then again in August. Testing is done every week.
If you contract the West Nile Virus and are treated by a doctor, it will be reported to the CDC. It is diagnosed by testing blood or spinal fluid and history of exposure to mosquitos that carry the virus.
Cases of West Nile Virus in humans spiked in 2003 and 2012 and took a drastic dip in 2020. People 40 to 70 seem to contract it the most. Between 1999 and 2022, 2,773 people died from the disease nationwide.
There is no vaccine for the virus and antibiotics do not help. Rest, fluids and over-the-counter pain medication can relieve some symptoms, according to the CDC.
Preventing an infection includes taking some simple precautions. The CDC has a complete list of what you can do to protect yourself and your family.