Six Ohioans died this summer from contracting West Nile Virus and 113 human cases of the disease, including one from Auglaize County, were reported, the most since 2003. The lone Auglaize County resident who contracted the disease is recovering.
The first case of West Nile Virus in a bird or mosquito was reported in 2001, according to Ohio Department of Health statistics and the first human case reported in 2002.
The Auglaize County case involved a 78-year-old man, who loved to fish and hunt, and lived in a heavily wooded area.
During the November Auglaize County County Health Board meeting, Nursing Director Cindy Jones reported the man became “very, very sick. He’s had to learn to feed himself again.”
A second Auglaize County man reported symptoms, but they did not worsen so officials with the Ohio Department of Health did not include him in their annual report.
On Oct. 18, Allen County health officials reported six cases, Mercer County, Putnam County and Van Wert County officials each reported three cases, and Darke County and Hancock County officials each reported one case.
Of the cases reported statewide, they involved people ranging in age from 4 to 91 years old. There have been 12 horses and other animals reporting positive results for West Nile Virus and 1,214 positive mosquito samples.
With cold temperatures throughout Ohio by the middle of October, most mosquitoes have been sent into hibernation so the mosquito surveillance has ended for 2012, but human cases will be tracked through the end of the year.
In 2003, there were 108 human cases of West Nile Virus with eight fatalities. In 2002, there were 441 human case of the virus with 31 fatalities, the state’s worst year. The most cases and fatalities since were recorded in 2006 when 48 human cases were reported and four people died.
According to the state Department of Health, people typically develop symptoms between 3 and 14 days after they are bitten by the infected mosquito.
State reports show approximately one in 150 people infected with West Nile Virus will develop a severe illness, which includes a high fever, headache, neck stiffness, disorientation, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. Some people may experience convulsions, stupor and enter into a coma.
These symptoms may last several weeks, and neurological effects may be permanent.
Approximately 20 percent of the people who become infected have symptoms such as fever, headache, and body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back.
Approximately 80 percent of people who are infected with the virus will not show any symptoms at all.
The best way to avoid contracting West Nile Virus is to avoid being bitten by a mosquito by using insect repellent containing an EPA-registered active ingredient. A person also can wear long sleeves and long pants.
State officials also advise to get rid of mosquito breeding sites by emptying items which have standing water such as flower pots, buckets and tires.