Ohio Dept. of Health: Ohio man dies of West Nile Virus

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A 74-year-old man died from West Nile Virus, the Ohio Department of Health said Wednesday in a news release.

The case is the first West Nile death of 2017. The man, from Defiance County, had been hospitalized with encephalitis. 

There are currently 10 cases of the virus that have been reported. Counties with at least one case include Hamilton, Clermont, Franklin, Greene, Clark, Cuyahoga, Defiance, Logan and Summit.

Ohio had 17 West Nile cases in 2016 including four deaths. In 2015, Ohio had 35 cases with two deaths.

Ohio Department of Health State Epidemiologist and Bureau Chief of Infectious Diseases Sietske de Fijter said mosquito season lasts until the first freeze, which is usually mid-October.

“This time of the year, the risk of West Nile virus infection increases and individuals should take precautions to avoid mosquito bites and eliminate potential mosquito breeding sites,” de Fijter said.

People get the virus through the bite of an infected mosquito. Most people who become infected do not show symptoms, but about one in five people will develop a fever, headaches, 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.

To avoid mosquito bites:

  • Wear long sleeves and pants if outside between dusk to dawn.
  • Wear light colored clothing. It is less attractive to mosquitoes.
  • Use EPA approved mosquito repellent.
  • Install screens on windows and doors.
  • Eliminate standing water.
  • Empty or remove water holders (bird baths, buckets, small pools)

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