Health officials taking precautions against West Nile Virus

Zoe Greszler • Jun 29, 2018 at 4:00 AM

With the West Nile Virus being spotted in various communities throughout the state, Huron County Public Health (HCPH) is taking no shortage of precautions to preventing a local outbreak. 

“In fall of 2017, HCPH’s mosquito surveillance efforts revealed that a submitted sample tested positive for West Nile virus,” public information officer Jessica Colvin said in a prepared statement. 

“Since finding West Nile virus in the local mosquito population, HCPH has now directed its mosquito control efforts to educate the public on ways to protect themselves and to eliminate mosquito breeding grounds.”

Recent efforts include the agency’s Tire Take Back Day, which took place June 2 and the June 1 Ag Tire Collection Event. Colvin said with those two events alone, local residents turned more than 117 tons of tires and important action since according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), just one tire can become the breeding ground for thousands of mosquitoes.

The most common way to get West Nile virus is through the bite of infected mosquito.

Most people who become infected with the disease don’t display any symptoms, however, 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.

Colvin said data shows that less than 1 percent of infected people develop a serious neurological illness, such as encephalitis or meningitis (inflammation of the brain or surrounding tissues). There are no medications to treat or vaccines to prevent West Nile virus infection.

The health departments encourages residents to protect themselves from mosquito bites by wearing long pants, long-sleeved shirts, shoes and socks; using EPA-registered mosquito repellent, such as DEET and follow the label directions; and installing or repairing screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out of homes.

HCPH also continues to offer mosquito control kits to county residents to allow them to eliminate mosquito breeding grounds around their own homes.

Huron County residents can pick up a kit at the HCPH environmental division. Proof of residence in the county, such as a utility bill or driver’s license, will be required. Individuals must have property with standing water that can’t be removed and agree to use the kit on their property only. Kits are distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis and will be limited to one pack per household.

The kits contain a card with 12 Natular DT larvicide tablets, which residents can use to treat standing water and containers on their property.

Each tablet lasts up to 60 days and can be used to treat containers (up to 50 gallons) and areas of standing water up to 25 square feet of surface area (up to 6 inches deep). The larvicide prevents mosquito larvae from developing into adult mosquitoes that may carry mosquito-borne diseases.

Colvin said the health department hopes by arming residents with mosquito control kits, they’re “able to stop mosquitoes from breeding in the area and in turn, provide a greater level of protection to their families and community.”

Richland Public Health officials recently were notified by the Ohio Department of Health that West Nile Virus has been detected in mosquitoes in Mifflin Township.

"To be very clear, this is not a human infection case, but our first positive WNV mosquito sample this year," Joe Harrod, Director of Environmental Health at Richland Public Health, told Richland Source. Health Department officials have already sprayed the WNV positive area to discourage transmittal of the mosquito-borne illness to residents.

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