Thursday, July 17, 2003

West Nile discovered in Butler mosquitoes

By Jeremy W. Steele
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Mosquitoes trapped in two Butler County communities have tested positive for the West Nile virus.

Bugs recently captured at the Princeton Village Manufactured Home Park in West Chester Township and at D&R Recyclers Inc. in St. Clair Township were found to carry the potentially deadly virus, according to results from the Ohio Department of Public Health.

Both locations have taken measures to reduce mosquitoes. Mosquito larva-killing "dunks" are used in standing water behind the manufactured home park. The St. Clair Township site is a tire recycling facility that regularly sprays to kill mosquitoes.

"We can do as much as we can to eliminate the problem, but it's going to be one of those things we're going to have to deal with for a while," said Patricia Burg, director of the Butler County Health Department.

West Nile has now been found in eight Ohio counties, including Hamilton County. A dead bird in Anderson Township and mosquitoes captured in Dent recently tested positive for the virus.

Indiana has reported the virus in nine counties, including Dearborn County, while Kentucky has reported four counties where the disease is present.

Officials caution that West Nile is not limited to those areas.

The mosquito-borne illness killed 31 people last year in Ohio, which had the third biggest outbreak of the disease with 441 probable or confirmed cases. Only Michigan and Illinois reported more.

Indiana's Allen County has reported one human case so far this year, although none has been reported yet in Ohio.

"We fully expect to see West Nile cases in horses and humans this year," said Kristopher Weiss, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Public Health. "The exact number of cases at this point is an unknown."

West Nile symptoms range from flu-like illness to life-threatening encephalitis or meningitis - swelling of the brain or membrane around the brain and spinal cord. People with chronic illnesses or immune system deficiencies are most at risk.

Health officials recommend preventive steps to reduce exposure to infected mosquitoes, including using repellent-containing DEET, eliminating sources of standing water that serve as mosquito breeding sites, and staying inside between dusk and dawn.

Burg said even a small amount of standing water can be a site for mosquitoes to breed.

"They can breed in pop cans, buckets, old flower pots," she said. "They don't need a lot."


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