West Nile virus -- Lorain County

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West Nile virus found in Lorain County

NEWS ARTICLE from The Chronicle-Telegram, 5-29-02, By Tony Lombardo

``There have been no confirmed human cases of the deadly West Nile virus in Ohio, but health officials plan to take every precaution this summer.

"It wouldn't surprise me to find the West Nile virus in birds and insects in Lorain County," said Scott Pozna, an inspector with the Lorain County General Health District.

"West Nile virus infection in humans is a form of encephalitis that causes the lining around the brain and spinal cord to swell. Symptoms include headaches, a stiff neck and impaired vision," Pozna said.

Richard Berry, chief of the Vector-Bourne Disease Program in Columbus, said 10 percent of the diagnosed West Nile cases in humans have been fatal. West Nile is 100 percent fatal in blue jays and crows, which also carry the disease, he said.

"Anyone who finds a dead blue jay or crow should contact local health officials so the bird can be tested," he said ...

Another disease spread by mosquitoes is LaCrosse encephalitis, which Pozna said strikes primarily children under the age of 6. Symptoms are similar to the West Nile virus.

Pozna said North Ridgeville and Avon historically get cases of encephalitis.

"This is most likely due to the effect of Bradley Woods, a flooded wetland," he said.

He said a helicopter was used by Clarke Mosquito Control on April 23 to drop the growth regulator over the park.

Berry said there are ways for residents to combat mosquitoes.

"Check your property for buckets, cans and jars with standing water. Put them under cover or get rid of them. Empty bird baths once a week," he said.

For repellent, Berry said to use products with the active ingredient deet. He said adults should not use repellents with more than 30 percent deet and products for children should contain no more than 10 percent.

He said citronella candles are only effective if used downwind.

Mosquitoes are attracted to dark colors, so light-colored clothing should be worn.''

Contact Tony Lombardo at metro@chronicletelegram.com

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Morning Journal Writer, 6-15-02, By PHIL VAN TREUREN, Morning Journal Writer

``West Nile virus found in county

ELYRIA -- The West Nile virus was identified in a bird for the first time in Lorain County yesterday after tests were run on the body of a blue jay that was found last week in New Russia Township, according to Lorain County Health Commissioner Ken Pearce.

West Nile virus, which has killed 18 people along the East Coast since it surfaced in this country three years ago, can be spread by mosquitoes to birds and humans. Those exposed to the virus can then develop deadly encephalitis, or swelling of the brain ...

Sporadic infections have been detected as far west as Illinois, Arkansas and Louisiana, and health officials said migratory birds will probably carry the virus even farther west this season.

No human cases have been identified so far in 2002, and Pearce said that no humans in Lorain County have exhibited any symptoms of the virus. No human infections have ever been reported in Ohio.

''When the West Nile virus was first found in Cuyahoga County last year, we automatically assumed that it had already spread into Lorain County,'' Pearce said. ''There is no doubt in my mind that if we found it in one bird in New Russia Township, it is already all over the county.''

Pearce also said that although the virus has not been identified in Erie or Huron counties, he expects it to be detected there soon.

The infected bird was found in New Russia Township on June 6 [2002] by a citizen and turned over to the Lorain County Health Department, which sent it to the Ohio Department of Health [ODH] in Columbus for testing. Pearce said counties across the state send the bodies of blue jays and crows to the ODH to test for the virus, which is slowly spreading across Ohio.

''We don't test decomposed birds or road kill,'' Pearce said. ''You could be in your back yard having a picnic and suddenly a bird drops from a tree, and that's what we are looking for.'' ...

The symptoms are similar to the flu, including fatigue and fever, and are usually more severe in people older than 50. There is no cure for the virus ...

Because the prevalence of the virus usually amplifies later in the summer, Pearce said, the health department plans to contact county hospitals and physicians to alert them to the possibility of West Nile infection. Pearce suggested that anyone who experiences extreme flu-like symptoms such as a severe, prolonged headache should visit a physician, but that the likelihood of any humans contracting the virus remains slim.

Although the health department plans to start a vigorous campaign to wipe out as much of the mosquito population in Lorain County as possible, Pearce said it is unlikely that the virus will ever be eradicated from the area.

''We can pretty much assume that West Nile virus is here to stay,'' Pearce said. ''It's one of the repertoire viruses for mosquitoes here now."''

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