West Nile found in PT
An insect widely regarded as nothing more than a summertime nuisance has become a serious health concern for those living in Prairie Township.
Each summer as a precaution, the Franklin County Board of Health (FCBH) traps mosquitoes throughout the county to be tested for West Nile Virus.
Although the testing has been done weekly since May, the first West Nile positive mosquito was not found until the week of July 14 in southern Prairie Township.
The trap, one of 38 in Franklin County, was found in the Village Park subdivision.
In an effort to eliminate the threat to residents, the effected area was sprayed on July 21. The area sprayed included neighborhoods north of Johnson Road, south of Broad Street, east of Alton Road and west of Galloway Road.
These parameters were set by the FCBH, who is contracted to handle mosquito spraying within Prairie Township.
According to Charlie Broschart with the FCBH, traps were also set in two areas near the one in Valley Park. Those traps, one in the area of North Murray Hill and one in the Lake Darby subdivision, both tested negative for West Nile. For that reason, the parameters for spraying were kept small.
“Those types of mosquitoes don’t fly very far,” said Broschart, “They usually don’t have to travel very far to get a blood meal.”
A new trap was set in the affected area on July 20, the night before the spray. A second trap was set the day after spraying, on July 22. This was done to obtain the numbers of mosquitoes in the area before and after it was sprayed. The FCBH expects the number of mosquitoes to decrease after a spray, although test results were not yet available at press time.
Franklin County received much more than the average amount of rain during June. Due to those heavy rains, the area is experiencing a large number of nuisance mosquitoes.
According to Broschart, the mosquitoes that result from these heavy rains and areas with standing water are not the mosquitoes responsible for transmitting West Nile Virus.
The Culex mosquitoes carry the virus, and their numbers are in the normal ranges for this time of year.
West Nile Virus is a disease spread to people from the bite of an infected mosquito.
According to the FCBH’s Web site, the virus attacks the central nervous system. Although there are often a wide range of symptoms, the disease can be fatal.
Only about 20 percent of those exposed to the disease will show symptoms. Those who are over 50 years old are at a higher risk.
Common symptoms include fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting, swollen lymph glands or a rash on the chest, stomach and back. These symptoms are most likely to occur three to 14 days from infection and can be expected to last a few days.
For some people who become infected, however, West Nile Virus can be much more serious. In those cases, symptoms range from high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. According to FCBH, these severe symptoms may last for weeks and neurological effects from the disease may be permanent.
According to the Center For Disease Control, minor cases of West Nile Virus tend to go away on their own, while in more severe cases victims should go to a hospital for treatment including intravenous fluids and help with breathing.
While there is a vaccine to protect horses and livestock from West Nile Virus, there is not yet an approved version of the vaccine for humans.
The best protection from West Nile is to reduce exposure to mosquitoes. The FCBH offers the following tips for keeping clear of mosquitoes:
•Avoid being outdoors at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
•Wear light colors, long sleeves and long pants when in mosquito-infested areas.
•Make sure door and window screens are tight fitting and free of holes.
•Use a DEET based repellent when outside.
•When camping or spending extended periods of time outdoors, consider Permethrin treated bed-nets, tents or clothing.
•Avoid perfumes, colognes or other heavy scents that may attract mosquitoes.
Also according to the board of health, bug zappers, citrosa plants, electronic devices and repellents not containing DEET are not effective.
For more information on mosquitoes and West Nile Virus, visit www.franklincountyohio.gov. You can also call 462-BITE (2483) to report problem areas in your community. Residents of Columbus should call 311.