STRUTHERS, Ohio (WKBN) – Mosquitoes carrying the West Nile Virus were caught in Mahoning County, according to a news release from Mahoning County Public Health.

The mosquitoes were trapped as part of surveillance in the county. To date, there have been no human cases of West Nile Virus reported in Mahoning County.

The mosquitoes were found in Yellow Creek Park in Struthers. According to Mahoning County Public Health, there will be increased surveillance in that area to determine the next course of action.

“West Nile pops up every year, and it’s a question of whether or not we catch the mosquitos that have it. This year, we did catch some of those mosquitos,” said Colton Masters, director of environmental health.

There are about 20 traps set throughout the county. They’re in place four days a week to get a good sample of a particular area.

A mosquito carrying West Nile was found last year in Austintown.

“It’s not like mosquitos know jurisdictions. They just go wherever they can to find a meal. They may go up to a mile to find a meal or a good blood meal,” Masters said. “If we start noticing more positive pools pop up in the same geographical location, that’s when we might step out and say we need to do other things like reevaluate surrounding stagnant water.”

That’s water that collects in wading pools, roof gutters, old tires, and even unused flowerpots. It’s one of the best ways to stop West Nile from spreading.  

“You can reduce the number of mosquitos by getting rid of mosquito breeding sites. And that is one of the most effective, simplest controls that we can tell people to do,” Masters said.

West Nile Virus is detected and reported in counties throughout Northeast Ohio yearly, and the virus becomes more prevalent in mosquito populations in the later summer months and into early fall.

The virus is spread through the bite of infected mosquitoes and causes the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Body aches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Swollen lymph glands
  • Rash on chest, stomach or back

Approximately 80% of people who are infected with the West Nile virus will not show any symptoms at all. Those who do develop symptoms will have them between two and 14 days after they are bitten by the infected mosquito.

About one in 150 people infected with the West Nile virus will develop severe illness. The severe symptoms may last several weeks, and neurologic effects may be permanent. Symptoms of severe illness can include:

  • High fever
  • Headache
  • Neck stiffness
  • Stupor
  • Disorientation
  • Coma
  • Tremors
  • Convulsions
  • Muscle weakness
  • Vision loss
  • Numbness
  • Paralysis

West Nile virus infection can only be diagnosed by a healthcare provider by laboratory testing. There is no specific treatment for West Nile virus infection. More information can be found on the Ohio Department of Health’s website.

The best protection against mosquito-borne diseases, like West Nile Virus, is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. Tips to avoid possible mosquito bites include:

  • If you are outdoors between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active, wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, shoes and socks.
  • Light colors are least attractive to mosquitoes.
  • Use insect repellent and follow the label directions.

Tips to eliminate mosquito breeding sites near your home:

  • Remove water-holding containers, such as tin cans and unused flowerpots.
  • Eliminate standing water.
  • Make sure all roof gutters are properly draining and clean.
  • Keep children’s wading pools empty and, on their sides, when they are not being used.