More West Nile cases reported around state

The Ohio Department of Health is reporting 15 probable or confirmed cases of West Nile virus around the state, including one each in Miami, Montgomery and Clark counties.

Health officials are seeing more cases of the virus in people and mosquitoes, which spread the virus, this summer. Drought conditions are blamed for the increase, because Culex mosquitoes, which carry West Nile virus, like breeding in shallow, stagnant pools left in dry conditions.

In Texas, 20 people have died from West Nile virus this summer, and officials authorized aerial spraying to kill infected mosquitoes in Dallas County.

Around Ohio, 17 health departments trap mosquitoes for testing so health officials can track where the virus might become a threat.

The best way to prevent West Nile infection is to avoid being bitten by an infected mosquito. Health experts recommend using mosquito repellent containing DEET or picaridin, wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and staying indoors at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.

To get rid of mosquitoes, remove weeds, tall grass and brush, and get rid of any standing water in planters, pots, gutters, old tires or trash cans.

In 2011, 21 human West Nile virus infections and one fatality were recorded in Ohio, compared to 441 cases and 31 fatalities in 2002, when the state first started keeping records on the virus. West Nile virus was first identified in humans in Africa in the 1930s. It first appeared in North America in 1999.

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