GALLIA COUNTY — In the United States, the number of cases of the mosquito-borne disease, the West Nile Virus has risen dramatically.
The Center for Disease Control reported there have been over 1,100 documented human cases in the month of August with the most occurring in Texas.
According to Ohio Department of Health, there have been 35 documented human cases this year in Ohio as of late August. However, according to Barbara Bradley, director of Environmental Health with the Gallia County Health Department, there has been no confirmed cases reported in Gallia County to date.
The virus rarely causes symptoms in infected people. Most people never feel sick and the body fights off the illness within a week. The onset of symptoms after being bitten by an infected mosquito may appear sometime between three and 14 days. Some may experience mild symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back.
Only one in 150 people experience the severe symptoms of the high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. You should talk with your health care provider if you have symptoms of the West Nile virus.
The latest cases in the state were confirmed in west-central Ohio, but the virus has been found in mosquito pools tested statewide, Ohio Department of Health spokeswoman Tessie Pollock said. No West Nile deaths have been reported in the state so far this year.
“Once identified, it’s here,” said Bradley. “It’s a matter of controlling it and being proactive.”
One way Gallia County successfully controls the mosquito population is through spraying, which starts in May and ends in September. It is a joint effort between the Gallia County Health Department and the township trustees. According to Bradley, the trustees locate sites and pay for the spray, and the health department administers it.
The best protection against this virus, however, is to eliminate mosquito breeding areas around residences. Any standing water is a perfect environment for mosquitoes. Old tires, aluminum cans, buckets, neglected bird baths and swimming pools, and clogged rain gutters are only a few places around a home that will hold water long enough to breed hundreds of mosquitoes.
“To help eliminate these kinds of breeding areas, scrap tires will be collected at the Gallia County Health Department from 8 a.m. to noon September 29,” said Bradley.
The health department is located on Jackson Pike in Gallipolis. Saturday will also be free dump day from 7:30 a.m. to noon at the Gallia County Landfill in Morgan Twp. near Ohio 554.
For additional protection you may also want to use a mosquito repellent when outside during the evening hours. The most effective repellent contains the active ingredient diethyl toluamide (DEET). Always read and follow the directions for the safe use of this product.
The resurgence of the West Nile virus may be due the mild winter, early spring or warmer summer temperatures. The illness has been under surveillance since 2000, when first identified in the U.S. The number of human cases appeared to have peaked in Ohio during the summer of 2002. Since then the average number of cases have been around 24 per year.
With the rise in the number of cases statewide, the Gallia County Health Department is asking everyone to be vigilant about eliminating standing water around residences.