Tuesday, July 1, 2003

W. Nile virus found in county

Dead bird in Anderson tests positive

By Tim Bonfield
The Cincinnati Enquirer

West Nile virus - the mosquito-borne illness that killed 31 people in Ohio last summer - has been detected in Hamilton County.

A dead blue jay found recently in Anderson Township tested positive for the virus, the Hamilton County General Health District said Monday.

"This result does not come as a surprise ... but it confirms that West Nile virus is still present in our area," said Chris Eddy, director of environmental health for the county health department.

The dead bird is the first local confirmation of West Nile virus activity. So far this summer, the virus has been spotted in 26 states, including a probable human case in Allen County, Ind.; an infected horse in Madison County, Ky.; and dead birds in Ohio's Cuyahoga, Franklin, Mahoning and Marion counties.

In most people, West Nile virus causes no noticeable symptoms or mild flu-like illness. In some people, especially those over 50 or with weak immune systems, the virus can cause life-threatening encephalitis or meningitis.

Last year, Ohio endured the nation's third-biggest outbreak of West Nile virus, with 31 deaths and 441 probable and confirmed cases. Only Michigan and Illinois had more cases.

On Monday, after the test results on the dead bird were confirmed, four teams of Hamilton County and Cincinnati health officials started fanning out in a 2-mile radius encompassing parts of Anderson Township and Mount Washington. They were passing out brochures about West Nile virus and looking for sources of standing water where mosquitoes breed, Eddy said.

County health officials say residents should take preventive steps, including using mosquito repellant containing DEET; eliminating sources of standing water on their properties; and using mosquito larvae-killing "dunks" on standing water that cannot be drained.


E-mail tbonfield@enquirer.com

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