‘It’s essentially endemic to this area’: Local family talks run with West Nile virus

Local News

BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – If you’ve been seeing more mosquitoes outside, you are not alone. The humid and wet weather we’ve been having is bringing the bugs out, and with mosquitoes, people have to be aware of the West Nile virus.

The mosquitoes were definitely out on Monday, especially by Mill Creek Park, where people said they already had a bunch of bites.

We spoke with the public health department about the mosquitoes in the area and if there is any risk for the West Nile virus.

Mosquitoes are always around, however, they do prefer hot weather. The Valley has been experiencing warmer temperatures along with many rainy days, which is the ideal temperature for the bugs. Many people find them when they are outside, and some mosquitoes can even carry the West Nile virus.

“Every year we’re told, basically, just to expect that it’s going to be here, expect that you’re going to have it around because it’s essentially endemic to this area,” said Colton Masters, director of environmental health at Mahoning County Public Health.

Masters said Mahoning County Public Health has a mosquito control plan that is currently in action. So far, they have not had any mosquitoes test positive for West Nile this year.

Last year, a local family was impacted by West Nile.

“It only comes from a mosquito bite and actually, Halloween weekend, we had been outside. We live by the park, we cook outside a lot. It’s football season and that’s when he had gotten the mosquito bite,” said Denise O’Neil, of Youngstown.

O’Neil and her son Patrick explained how scary it was to experience the West Nile virus. Patrick was just 16 when he was bit by a mosquito that carried the virus. He experienced a fever and fatigue, as well as neurological issues. Doctors told him it could have been worse if he was older.

“If it would have been myself or my husband, we may not have made it,” Denise said.

The public health department recommends wearing mosquito repellent that has 15-30 percent DEET concentration, as well as using citronella candles to try to keep mosquitoes away.

Along with wearing repellent, they recommended wearing long sleeves or pants when the weather allows for it, as well as using a tent with netting while outside, possibly on a back porch.

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