Ohio Department of Health officials say the first two cases of West Nile Virus in humans have been found this year.
The cases are in a 24-year-old woman from Muskingum County and a 78-year-old woman from Cuyahoga County. Both have been hospitalized with encephalitis.
Encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain and is caused when someone is bitten by an infected mosquito.
The ODH began testing mosquitoes from local agencies in July. So far, 120 mosquito samples have turned up positive for West Nile Virus. Officials say those low rates may be influenced by the low temperatures and rainfall this year.
“As infection rates are expected to increase, it is important to remind everyone to avoid mosquito bites and eliminate breeding sites,” said Dr. Mary DiOrio, ODH State Epidemiologist.
Here are some tips from the ODH to avoid possible infection from mosquito bites:
• If you are outdoors between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active, be sure to wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, shoes and socks.
• Light colors are least attractive to mosquitoes.
• Use insect repellent and follow the label directions.
Here are some tips to eliminate mosquito breeding sites near your home:
• Remove water-holding containers, such as tin cans and unused flower pots.
• Eliminate standing water.
• Make sure all roof gutters are properly draining and clean.
• Keep children’s wading pools empty and on their sides when they aren’t being used.
Approximately 80 percent of people who are infected with West Nile Virus do not show any symptoms at all, but there is no way to know in advance if you will develop an illness or not.