MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2016

Ohio Department of Health confirms its first case of West Nile virus this year

The Ohio Department of Health announced on Tuesday its first confirmed case of West Nile virus this year after a 72-year-old woman in the hospital was confirmed to have WNV meningitis.

Health officials said they expect this year's WNV outbreak to be less severe than usual. Last year the first confirmed case of WNV occurred in July, a month earlier than this year's. Although the threat of contracting WNV is real, the prevalence of infected persons has decreased.

"We've seen human cases of West Nile virus each year in Ohio since 2002 but it is encouraging that our counts are down compared to where we were a year ago," ODH Director Ted Wymyslo said. "Ohioans are doing their part to avoid mosquito bites and we continue to work with local health departments around the state to monitor West Nile virus activity."

A recent study conducted by the ODH and local health organizations found that the prevalence of mosquitoes carrying the WNV in Ohio has decreased tenfold. Although the likelihood of contracting the virus has decreased, ODH health officials still advise Ohioans to take precautions against contracting WNV.

"You can protect yourself and your loved ones from West Nile virus by taking simple preventative steps such as using insect repellent and eliminating containers that can collect water from your property," Wymyslo said.

People can also decrease their risk of mosquito bites by wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants and by wearing bug repellent when outdoors.