Thursday, August 02, 2001

West Nile virus detected in Ohio

The Associated Press

        COLUMBUS — A blue jay in northeast Ohio infected with the West Nile virus was confirmed as the first evidence the disease has reached the state, the Ohio Department of Health reported Wednesday.

        No human case of the disease has been reported in Ohio.

        The bird was found in Concord Township in Lake County, about 25 miles northeast of Cleveland, the agency said.

        Frank Kellogg, director of environmental health for Lake County, said, “We all knew this was coming. The only question was where it was going to show up and when.”

        The incursion into Ohio had been expected because the virus had been reported last year near Erie, Pa., and adjacent parts of western New York. The virus has killed nine people in New York and New Jersey since 1999. Mosquitoes can carry the virus from birds to humans and other animals.

        The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that Americans reduce the risk by eliminating standing water where mosquitoes can lay eggs.

        The West Nile virus, first isolated in 1937 in Uganda's West Nile district, causes a flu-like illness. For older people and those with weak immune systems, it can cause deadly encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain.


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