PARKERSBURG -Although a third Ohio resident died last week from complications of the West Nile virus, there have been no human cases reported in the Mid-Ohio Valley this season.
"We have not had any human cases reported, yet," said Patrick Burke, regional epidemiologist with the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department.
The Hamilton County Public Health Department in southwest Ohio announced last week an 80-year-old man died on Sept. 16 from compilations of the West Nile virus, which is the third death due to the illness in the state this year.
In all, Ohio has reported 79 human cases of West Nile this year while West Virginia has reported three, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website (www.cdc.gov).
Since June 26, Wood County has had a number of mosquito populations, also known as pools, test positive for the virus. There have also been several dead birds in the area that tested positive, Burke said.
"We know that it is here and people need to be diligent in keeping themselves safe," he added.
Dr. Kathleen Meckstroth, with the Washington County Health Department, said the department in Marietta has not had any human or animal cases reported.
"Nothing has been reported in humans or animals this year," she said.
The CDC reported 3,142 cases of West Nile this year with 134 deaths nationwide as of Monday.
"It has been a bad year for West Nile and it's not over," Burke said. "Most cases occur in late summer and the fall and people need to remain vigilant as far as keeping it at bay."
Burke added mosquitoes will remain active with a risk of mosquito-borne illnesses - including West Nile - remaining into the winter months.
"Mosquitoes will remain active into winter and people need to remember that just because it's colder, doesn't mean the risk goes down," he said.
To prevent mosquito bites and the threat of West Nile virus, which is passed onto humans by mosquitoes and can cause encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain, or meningitis, an inflammation of the membrane around the brain and the spinal cord, Burke recommends being proactive.
People need to empty standing water from items around their property, which will prevent mosquitoes from breeding and passing the virus on.
Mosquitoes breed in standing pools of water, which can be as little as only one teaspoon large. Water will collect in bird baths, baby pools, trash cans, old tires. This water needs to be cleaned up with holes drilled into such items to allow water to escape and keep the insects from breeding.
Burke added people should use insect repellent, stay inside during dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active and wear protective clothing as an added protection.