Over the last decade, the number of West Nile virus cases have ranged from a low of zero to a high of 441. Each year, the state continues to test around a quarter million mosquitoes to monitor the situation.
SUMMIT COUNTY, Ohio - An elderly man is dead and another person remains hospitalized after being infected by the West Nile virus.
Summit County Health Commissioner Gene Nixon said these were the first two human cases confirmed of West Nile virus encephalitis (WNV), the more serious version, in Summit County since 2002.
A 78-year-old New Franklin man died on Tuesday after getting bit by a mosquito infected with WNV.
"Our sincere sympathies are extended to his family and friends," a Summit County Health Department news release said.
The department reports a 47-year-old Akron man remains in the hospital after getting the West Nile virus.
Due to this year's flooding and frequent rains, Summit County Public Health has identified WNV-infected mosquitoes in 20 Summit County communities. The Health District has increased surveillance and mosquito treatment to address this year's unusual abundance of mosquitoes.
WEB EXTRA: Click on an icon below for details on where the West Nile virus has been confirmed in Ohio:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate about 20 percent of people who become infected with WNV will develop West Nile fever. Symptoms include fever, headache, tiredness, and body aches, occasionally with a skin rash and swollen lymph glands. While the illness can be as short as a few days, even healthy people have reported being sick for several weeks.
The CDC estimates about one in 150 people infected with WNV will develop a more severe form of disease such as West Nile encephalitis or meningitis or West Nile poliomyelitis. Severe symptoms include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis. Serious illness can occur in people of any age, however people over age 50 and some immune-compromised persons (for example, transplant patients) are at the highest risk for getting severely ill when infected with WNV.
To put it in perspective, the flu kills between 30,000 and 40,000 people annually. In 2010 nationwide, 57 people died from the West Nile virus.
Summit County Public Health staff will continue to monitor mosquitoes until the first freeze.
It's recommended to use bug spray that contains DEET, which prevents mosquitoes from detecting carbon dioxide given off by the human body.
For more information, you can contact the Environmental Health Division at Summit County Public Health at (330) 926-5600 or visit the SCPH web site: www.schd.org .