Monday, May 5, 2003

Tristate A.M. Report

Horse owners bank on West Nile vaccine

BALTIMORE, Ohio - Many horse owners in Ohio are hoping a $20 shot can help protect their animals from the West Nile virus, which is much more deadly to birds and horses than humans.

As of November, 644 horses in 77 of Ohio's 88 counties had tested positive for the virus in blood samples sent to the Ohio Department of Agriculture. The agency's Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory has confirmed two more cases this year in Clark and Hardin counties.

Thousands more horses might have been infected, but didn't show symptoms or get tested, said Bill Saville, an Ohio State University Extension epidemiologist.

Saville said a study conducted by his office indicated a vaccine against West Nile is about 95 percent effective in horses.

Columbus confines three infected with TB

COLUMBUS - City health officials have confined three people with active tuberculosis under 24-hour guard in the past eight months - triple the average of one Ohioan a year who is forcibly quarantined.

In the past five years, Columbus officials have obtained orders from the Franklin County Probate Court to put 24-hour guards on at least five people who refused TB treatment.

Although Cuyahoga County consistently has more active cases than Franklin County, officials there have not detained anyone in the past decade. It's been at least five years since a TB patient in Hamilton County has been forcibly guarded.

"There have been six cases where we went so far as to notify a judge and told them 'This is your last chance,"' said Dr. Richard Blinkhorn, director of the Cuyahoga County TB program. Those orders have worked to get patients to comply.

Charles Woode, health services chief of TB control in Hamilton County, credits a diverse, experienced health department staff with not having to detain patients.

"There can be some resistance, but you just have to be persistent," he said.

An average of one person with active TB is detained a year statewide, said Dr. Elizabeth Koch, director of the state's Bureau of Infectious Disease Control.

TB, caused by a bacterium, is an airborne disease that can spread when an infected person coughs, sneezes or laughs. Last year, there were 257 reported cases in Ohio, down from 306 in 2001.

Authority needs more time in fatal shooting

The city's new Citizen Complaint Authority needs more time to complete an investigation into the fatal shooting of Andre Sherrer by a Cincinnati police officer in Northside Feb. 9, the authority's director will tell his board today.

Nathanael L. Ford has said the complexity of the investigation - along with the complications of starting up the new police watchdog agency - will require more time than the 90 days allowed for under the ordinance that created the authority.

The 90-day deadline came out of reforms in the Collaborative Agreement, which settled a lawsuit alleging racial profiling by Cincinnati police. Previous reviews of police shootings often took months or even years.

Some want schools optional poll places

COLUMBUS - Some parents and one state lawmaker, citing concerns about student safety, want schools to have the option of refusing to serve as polling places.

Elections officials say that's not practical.

Since last fall, a committee of the High Point Elementary School Parent-Teacher Association in suburban Gahanna has been lobbying legislators to change a state law saying any public building may be used for elections, which means schools cannot refuse.

"I was shocked to learn that all of the procedures and rules in place on a daily basis to protect our children were waived on Election Day," said Ellen Elleman, who had two children at High Point at the time.

Those rules include keeping all doors except the front locked during school hours and requiring visitors to sign in at the office.

Republican Rep. Larry Wolpert of Hilliard has drafted a bill that would permit schools to decline to serve as polling places if an alternative site is possible.

- Compiled from staff and wire reports

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