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Environment


Ohio mosquitoes start showing up with West Nile virus
Two test positive in central Ohio, and midsummer is often when infections escalate
Story by M.L. SCHULTZE AND LYNDSEY SCHLEY


 
West Nile has been detected in tests of mosquitoes in central Ohio -- the first cases in the state this year.
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In The Region:

Columbus health officials have confirmed the first two instances in the state of this year of mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus. WKSU’s M.L. Schultze has more.

LISTEN: West Nile patterns

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In some years, Ohio has found the insects carrying the West Nile virus as early as May, but mid-summer is usually when they make themselves known. Ohio Department of Health entomologist Richard Gary says the insects thrive best when conditions are warm and dry – and neither is the case so far this summer. But he says it’s too early to know just what this year will be like.

More on West Nile from the CDC:
  • You can reduce your risk of being infected with West Nile virus by using insect repellent and wearing protective clothing to prevent mosquito bites.
  • There are no medications to treat or vaccines to prevent West Nile infection. 
  • Most people infected will have no symptoms. About 1 in 5 people who are infected will develop a fever with other symptoms. Less than 1 percent of infected people develop a serious, sometimes fatal, neurologic illness.

“If it happens sooner than we would normally expect to see it or if it happens rapidly, the concern would be that we have what’s called amplification of West Nile virus in the mosquito population, and the risk for human cases increases.”

Gary says the only sure way to know what’s happening is with testing of mosquito samples. The state ended the testing because of federal cuts last year and some counties like Franklin took over.  Gary says new money has just become available to the state..

Last year, two dozen people contracted the virus statewide and three died. About four-in-five people infected with West Nile show no symptoms.

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