Mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus have been detected in Ashtabula County according to the county’s health department.
A mosquito sample taken in Geneva has tested positive for the disease, the first such finding of the year, said Raymond Saporito, the county’s health commissioner. Ohio’s Department of Health made the determination, he said.
No human cases of the virus have been reported in the county, Saporito said.
West Nile virus is no stranger to the county, but numbers have been up and down over the years. In 2011, three mosquito samples tested positive after a 2010 that was virus-free.
“We’ve had it a number of times,” Saporito said.
Nine human cases have been reported in Ohio this year, compared to 21 in 2011 and an all-time high of 441 cases in 2002, Saporito said.
The reduction is encouraging, but since symptoms are very similar to flu — fever, headache and muscle aches — many victims unknowingly suffer with the disease. Symptoms can last a week.
The county’s positive sample has prompted local health officials to repeat precautions. “We want to make people aware that we have and will have West Nile virus for years to come,” Saporito said.
Experts say some simple steps will minimize chances of contracting the disease:
- Wear long sleeves and pants outdoors when possible
- Use mosquito repellent outdoors
- Stay indoors during early morning and late evening, when mosquitos are most active
- Eliminate all standing water, because mosquitoes breed in stagnant water. Change water in bird baths weekly.
- Cut down tall weeds, which mosquitoes use as a resting spot
- Make sure screens in windows and doors have no rips or tears
- Clean and chlorinate pools, saunas and hot tubs
The county health department will continue to test mosquito samples taken at a variety of locations, Saporito said. People with questions can call their local health department: County (576-6010), Ashtabula (992-7123) and Conneaut (593-3087).