Mosquito positive for West Nile infection tracked down in Cincinnati

CINCINNATI — The Cincinnati Health Department has collected a mosquito sample that tested positive for the West Nile virus, according to a press release.

The discovery was made through the health department’s regular surveillance of mosquitoes in the region.

“Whenever we find West Nile virus in our local mosquito population, we worry about transmission to humans,” said Grant Mussman, M.S., MHSA and Cincinnati Health Department commissioner. “That is what we want to prevent. We want to encourage Cincinnati area residents to take some simple precautionary measures to protect themselves, their families and their neighbors.”

The West Nile virus affects the central nervous system, and can be transmitted to humans directly by mosquitoes. Most people bitten by an infected mosquito will never become sick, or show symptoms. However, up to 20 percent of people who become infected may have symptoms such as fever, headaches, body aches, nausea, vomiting and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a rash.

Less than one percent of people infected with the West Nile virus develop severe symptoms, but those symptoms can last several weeks and neurological effects can become permanent.

Residents over the age of 50 have the highest risk of developing severe infections, and anyone experiencing similar symptoms should contact a healthcare provider for evaluation.

Mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus have been found in the Greater Cincinnati region before. Mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn; the health department says mosquito species that bite humans during the day are not typically the species known to carry the West Nile virus.

To prevent mosquitoes in your area, the health department suggests the following steps:

Eliminate sources of standing water in your yard such as saucers under flowerpots, children’s toys, wheelbarrows, boats, tires, puddles, etc. Mosquitoes can breed in even a very small quantity of standing water.
Replace water in bird baths and outdoor pet dishes at least every week to help eliminate stagnant water.
Keep swimming pools circulating, clean and chlorinated, and remove any water that collects on the swimming pool cover.
Empty out and turn over plastic wading pools or kiddie pools when not in use.
Keep gutters clean to prevent standing water.
To protect yourself from mosquitoes:

Wear light colored, loose-fitting pants and long-sleeved shirts with shoes and socks when outdoors for long periods of time, or during dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.
Use an EPA-approved mosquito repellent to protect exposed skin.
Apply mosquito larvicide, sometimes called mosquito “dunks,” to areas of standing water that cannot be drained. The “dunks” are environmentally safe and won’t harm pets. Purchase them at your local hardware store.
Repair or replace old and torn screens in doors, windows and vents.