CINCINNATI - The first two human cases of West Nile Virus have been reported in Hamilton County.
Hamilton County Public Health reports the first two cases were found in the western side of the county, but would not elaborate further on where exactly the virus was found, who was affected or their conditions.
West Nile is a viral disease affecting the central nervous system that can be transmitted to humans by mosquitoes.
This year's outbreak is the worst the U.S. has ever seen, according to the Centers for Disease Control , with 41 deaths reported as a result of the disease.
“West Nile Virus is here to stay and we already knew mosquitoes in Hamilton County were carrying the virus,” said Hamilton County Health Commissioner, Tim Ingram. “Because humans only become infected when bitten by an infected mosquito, it is important that we all take action to protect ourselves and our property from mosquitoes.”
While all residents of areas where virus activity has been identified are at risk, people over age 50 have the highest risk of developing severe WNV infections.
When WNV-positive mosquitoes or human cases are identified, Hamilton County Public Health staff canvas a half-mile radius in the area to advise residents about steps they can take to reduce the mosquito population and prevent mosquito bites, including the DRAIN, DUNK and PROTECT method:
• Look for and drain sources of standing water on your property – litter, tires, buckets, flower pots, wading pools and similar items that could create standing water and become mosquito breeding sites.
• Frequently change water in bird baths and pet bowls.
• Drain small puddles after heavy rainstorms.
• 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. You can purchase them at your local hardware store.
• Cut your grass and trim shrubbery.
• Make sure screens in windows and doors are tight-fitting and free from defects.
• Wear long sleeves and pants during peak mosquito hours – dawn and dusk.
• Use an EPA-registered insect repellent such as those containing DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Always follow the directions on the package.
Here are five things you need to know about West Nile virus:
1. Most mosquitoes do not carry West Nile.
In areas where mosquitoes carry the virus, only about one in 500 mosquitoes is infected, according to the Connecticut Mosquito Management Program.
2. Most people bit by West Nile mosquitoes do not get sick.
About 80 percent of people bit by a mosquito infected with the West Nile virus do not get sick, according to the CDC. About 20 percent will have relatively mild symptoms, such as fever, headache and vomiting. Symptoms can last for as short as a few days or as long as a few weeks. About one in 150 people infected with West Nile will develop a severe illness, which can include paralysis, coma or death.
3. You can help prevent West Nile with the "four Ds."
• Use mosquito repellent with DEET
• Dress in long pants and long sleeves
• Be especially careful at dusk and dawn
• Drain any standing water, such as kiddie pools or bird fountains, where mosquitoes like to breed.
4. People older than 50 are most vulnerable.
Those older than 50 are the most likely to become severely ill with West Nile and should take special care to avoid mosquitoes, according to the CDC.
5. Seek medical care immediately if you have severe headaches or confusion.
If you develop symptoms of severe West Nile virus illness, such as unusually severe headaches or confusion, seek medical attention immediately, according to the CDC. Severe illness usually requires hospitalization. Milder cases improve on their own and do not necessarily require medical attention.
Information from CNN was used in this report.
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