LUCAS COUNTY, Ohio — A 68-year-old man from Lucas County, located near Toledo, has become Ohio’s first fatal human West Nile case of 2019 and is among the other 468 human West Nile virus cases reported across the country this year, the Ohio Department of Health said in a news release.
The man, who is the first human West Nile case this year, was hospitalized for encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain. The health department said less than 1% of infected people develop a neurologic illness like encephalitis.
In 2018, the health department confirmed 65 human West Nile virus cases, including six deaths in 2018. In 2017, there were five deaths. In 2016, four deaths were confirmed.
Health officials say most West Nile virus cases and other diseases transmitted by mosquitoes typically happen from May through October when mosquitoes are most active.
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 a headache, body aches, joint pains and diarrhea.
Experts provide the following tips to avoid 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 buy 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.