Thursday, August 15, 2002

Two may be Ohio's first with West Nile

By Tim Bonfield,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Two Ohio residents — one from Columbus, the other from the Cleveland area — have become the state's first “probable” victims of the West Nile virus.

        The cases were announced Wednesday by the Ohio Department of Health, just two days after state health officials predicted that human cases are expected.

        One case involves a 76-year-old woman in Cuyahoga County, who remains hospitalized. The other was a 26-year-old man from Columbus who was hospitalized for four days at Ohio State University Medical Center.

        The West Nile virus has been detected in 37 states, affected at least 156 humans in eight states and the District of Columbia and killed seven people this summer as it creeps westward.

        Ohio health officials would not discuss further details about the victims. Blood and spinal fluid samples are being sent to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lab in Fort Collins, Colo., for confirmation. Test results on one case could come as soon as Friday, but it may be next week before the CDC can confirm both cases.

        “This was not unexpected,” said Dr. J. Nick Baird, director of the Ohio Department of Health.

        Dr. Baird said the probable human cases do not change the message public health agencies have been sending out about the risks of the virus, but the development does add emphasis.

        “It becomes real once a human is involved,” he said.

        Officials repeated reminders to wear long sleeves and mosquito repellant containing DEET while outside, and urged people to eliminate pools of stagnant water.

        One case has been confirmed in Indiana. No cases have been confirmed in Kentucky.


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