Health dept. urges West Nile virus safety

As residents enjoy more time outside due to cooler weather, fall sports, family picnics, working, hunting and camping, the Fulton County Health Department is encouraging the public to protect itself from mosquito-borne disease.

As of Aug. 18, a total of 45 states have reported West Nile virus infections in people, birds, or mosquitoes in 2015. Overall, 210 cases of West Nile virus (WNV) disease in people in the U.S. required medical attention and were reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Of these, 126, or 60 percent, were classified as potentially life-threatening neurological illness, such as meningitis or encephalitis. The rest were classified as the less severe non-neurological illness, which can include headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash.

In Ohio, there have been nine reported human cases of WNV disease in Ohio this year in six counties – Cuyahoga, Franklin, Hamilton, Lucas, Lorain, and Williams. In recent years, Ohio reported 11 WNV cases in 2014, 24 in 2013, and 122 in 2012.

The recent death of a 91 year-old patient with West Nile virus from Williams County is a reminder that it is important to prevent mosquito bites, to eliminate mosquito breeding sites and to know the symptoms of WNV disease.

The primary way people get WNV disease is through the bite of an infected West Nile mosquito. Most people who become infected with WNV 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. Less than one percent of infected people develop a serious neurological illness, such as encephalitis or meningitis.

Fulton County Health Department officials urge the public to minimize the risk of mosquito bites by:

  • Wearing long-sleeved shirt, shoes and socks between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active;
  • Wearing light-colored clothing, which is less attractive to mosquitoes;
  • Using EPA-registered mosquito repellent and follow the label directions;
  • Installing or repairing screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out of your home.

To eliminate mosquito breeding sites around homes and businesses:

  • Eliminate standing water;
  • Empty or remove water-holding containers, such as buckets, unused flower pots and bird baths;
  • Make sure all roof gutters are clean and draining properly;
  • Keep child wading pools empty and on their sides when not being used.

Learn more about mosquitoes and West Nile virus at or by calling 419-337-0915.