COLUMBUS, Ohio (WKBN) – The Ohio Department of Health reported that a man died from the West Nile virus — the state’s first reported death from the virus this year.
The 68-year-old Lucas County man was hospitalized with encephalitis.
Nationwide, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 468 human West Nile virus cases this year.
Last year, the Department of Health reported 65 human West Nile virus cases, including six deaths.
Most cases of West Nile virus and other diseases transmitted by mosquitoes usually occur from May through October when mosquitoes are most active.
According to health professionals, many people exposed to the virus have no idea that they caught the bug.
“The problem with West Nile is that the majority of the time, people don’t get symptoms even if you get infected. Your body generally takes care of it and you would have no idea,” said Dr. James Shina with Steward Medical Group.
About one in five people who are infected develop a fever, headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or a rash.
Less than 1% of those infected develop a serious neurologic illness like encephalitis or meningitis, according to ODH.
There is no medication or vaccinations to prevent the infection. The best thing is to prevent mosquito bites.
“Prevention is so much easier than treatment because if you get encephalitis, that’s inflammation of the brain,” said Dr. David Allen, a veterinarian.
Experts advise the public to cover up, wear repellent and remove habitats that attract mosquitoes.
“It’s almost all mosquito-related. You know, repellents, long sleeves, try to get them where they catch,” said Shina.
“Standing water anywhere, water that’s not moving, that’s perfect for mosquitoes to breed and reproduce in,” Allen said.
ODH offered detailed tips to avoid mosquito bites:
- Use EPA‐registered repellents according to label instructions.
- Wear long sleeves, long pants, and long socks when outdoors.
- Mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing, so spraying clothes with an EPA‐registered repellent will give extra protection.
- Treat clothing and gear such as pants, boots, socks, and tents with a product containing permethrin, or buy permethrin‐treated clothing or gear. Do not apply permethrin directly to skin.
- Mosquito‐proof your home:
- Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes outside.
- Help reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home by emptying standing water on a regular basis from flowerpots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes, discarded tires and bird baths.
Doctors say that only a third of those who contract illnesses like West Nile recover within about a year. Another third live with the symptoms for the rest of their lives.