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What you should know about the West Nile virus
This year’s heat wave poses plenty of health risks, including the possibility of dehydration and exhaustion. Franklin County officials remind residents not to forget about the transmission of West Nile virus through mosquito bites.
Franklin County Public Health (FCPH) sprays high risk areas. According to county officials, the West Nile virus has been present for several years.
Over two months the FCPH trapped approximately 13,755 mosquitos and tested 17 positive for the virus.
The county caught 846 mosquitos in Prairie Township since May and found one with the virus.
Franklin Township had four mosquitos test positive for West Nile virus out of 787 mosquitos trapped and counted.
“We had a mild winter so we probably started out with more (larvae) than in past years,” said Mitzi Kline, FCPH director of communications.
The last human case of West Nile virus reported in Franklin County was in 2006.
The FCPH sprays neighborhoods to kill the insects and prevent future growth. The department also traps and tests mosquitos in 40 locations throughout county, Kline said.
According to Kline, there are two traps in Franklin Township and three traps in Prairie Township. Traps are set every Monday and picked up on Tuesday mornings.
“The traps are brought back to our lab to count the number of mosquitos... then all of the mosquitos are sent to the Ohio Department of Health lab where they are all tested for West Nile virus,” Kline said.
County officials said dry weather and has not slowed the mosquito population.
“Mosquitos are hardy,” Kline said. “it is not uncommon for them to survive even in dry conditions.”
Mosquitos seek stagnant water in dry conditions, like pet water bowls, the bottom of planters and backyard pools. The insects seek standing water to breed, according to a county press release.
According to statistics released by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), nearly 80 percent of people who are infected by West Nile virus never show symptoms.
“You can actually have the virus and not know it,” Kline said. “You may be lethargic and have a fever but attribute it to something else and not even see a doctor.”
The statistics also report one in 150 people infected fall seriously ill. They experience fever, stiffness, confusion, paralysis and weakness. Children, pregnant women and seniors are at greatest risk, according to the CDC.
Kline said stay indoors at dawn and dusk when pests are most active.
She also recommends wearing light colored and loose fitting cloths, avoid heavily scented soaps and perfumes and use bug repellant with the chemical ingredient, Deet.
Westside Editor Sean V. Lehosit contributed to this story.
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