A mosquito captured for testing in the Bellbrook area has tested positive for the West Nile virus and the public is being warned to take precautions.
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Officials at the Greene County Public Health District are working to educate the public about what to do to minimize the risk of infection.
A public health sanitarian on Monday sprayed insecticide in the area where the mosquito was trapped along Ryder Court in Bellbrook.
Greene County Director of Environmental Health Services Jeff Webb said the community is being advised to take precautions as his department continues to monitor and trap mosquitoes.
“If you have an unexplained illness, you need to go to your doctor,” Webb said. “Like a lot of illnesses, it will start out with flu-like symptoms. But if it gets worse and you don’t get better, you need to see your doctor.”
Greene County health officials said mosquitoes have been getting trapped since May and that will continue until October. In addition to collecting the samples, officials gather information on the total number of mosquitoes, the types, and gender.
The samples are sent to the Ohio Department of Health for testing and identification.
So far this year, 13 counties across the state have had mosquitoes test positive for West Nile, including Clark and Montgomery counties, according to records at the Ohio Department of Health.
There have been no human cases of infection in Ohio this year, but there have been hundreds who have gotten sick in years’ past.
Since 2002, there have been 945 incidents of Ohioans getting sick from the West Nile virus, according to state health records. Most of those cases were recorded in 2002 and the numbers have been declining ever since. In 2014, there were 11 incidents of humans infected by West Nile; in 2015, there were 35; in 2016, there were 17, including four deaths, but none of those effected were in the Miami Valley, according to state records.
The West Nile virus, commonly spread to humans through infected mosquitoes, can lead to severe fever, encephalitis or meningitis.
Webb said as a precaution, residents should be proactive in eradicating the wet environments around their house that are conducive to mosquito breeding.
“Really it’s common sense. If you’re out during the evening, wear insect repellent that has DEET in it. If it’s not too hot, wear long sleeves, pants. That helps to reduce your exposure,” Webb said.
Residents should also drain any containers that have standing water in them.
“Anything that can collect water, you need to empty it,” Webb said. “Some species of mosquitoes can breed in a capful of water.”
Greene County Public Health Commissioner Melissa A. Howell said there are steps people can take to protect themselves from getting infected:
- Eliminating standing pools of water, such as birdbaths, gutters, old tires, unused pools, boats and buckets.
- Avoid shaded areas where mosquitoes may be resting.
- Limit outdoor activity during evening hours.
- Wear protective clothing such as light-colored, long-sleeved shirts and pants.
- Use insect repellents