On Wednesday, Sept. 25, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) reported Ohio’s first human West Nile virus case and death of 2019.

According to ODH, the victim was a 68-year-old Lucas County man who was hospitalized with encephalitis.

ODH said that in Ohio, most West Nile virus cases and other diseases transmitted by mosquitoes usually occur from May through October when mosquitoes are most active.

According to ODH, most people who become infected with West Nile virus do not have any symptoms. About one in five people who become infected develop a fever with other symptoms such as headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash, ODH reports.

“Less than 1% of infected people develop a serious neurologic illness, such as encephalitis or meningitis — inflammation of the brain or surrounding tissues,” according to ODH. “There are no medications to treat or vaccines to prevent West Nile virus infection.”

“The primary way people get West Nile virus is through the bite of an infected mosquito,” said ODH Director Amy Acton, MD, MPH. “I encourage all Ohioans and communities to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites in order to prevent mosquito–borne diseases.”

ODH states that mosquitoes can live indoors and outdoors, and some types bite during the day while others bite at dusk and dawn.

Here are some tips from ODH to avoid mosquito bites:

• Use EPA-registered repellents according to label instructions

• Wear long sleeves, long pants, and long socks when outdoors

• Mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing, so spraying clothes with an EPA-registered repellent will give extra protection.

• Treat clothing and gear such as pants, boots, socks, and tents with a product containing permethrin, or by permethrin-treated clothing or gear. Do not apply permethrin directly to skin.

• Mosquito-proof your home:

— Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes outside.

— Help reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home by emptying

standing water on a regular basis from flowerpots, gutters, buckets, pool

covers, pet water dishes, discarded tires, and birdbaths.

Learn more about mosquitoes and West Nile virus on the ODH website: www.odh.ohio.gov/wnv

Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), a deadly disease which is also transmitted by mosquitoes, has been found in horses in some Ohio counties in recent days. EEE has resulted in several recent deaths in humans in Michigan and other states.

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