First death from West Nile Virus recorded in Ohio

Published: Sep. 25, 2019 at 10:34 AM EDT
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For the first time in 2019, a human victim of West Nile Virus has died of the disease in Lucas County, according to the Lucas County Health Department. This is also the first death from the disease in the state this year.

According to The Toledo- Lucas County Health Department, the patient is a 68-year-old man, with underlying health issues, who passed away after he was hospitalized for encephalitis, or swelling of the brain.

The Toledo Area Sanitary District maps the county into 361 service areas. According to Paul Bauman, a biologist and general manager for the TASD, the victim lived in service map area 156, near Central and Talmadge. While it is still unclear where the victim was bit, the 156 service map is surrounded by half of the mosquito pools within the county that have tested positive for the West Nile Virus this year.

Bauman says he is disappointed to hear the only West Nile death and case in the state is here in Lucas County. The TASD spends more than $2 million dollars every year protecting the county from mosquitoes.

"It only takes one bite, that is the saddest thing about mosquito borne disease is it only takes one bite," says Bauman.

The Toledo Area Sanitary District is now amping up fogging and spraying in the area surrounding the 156 service map zone, including spraying inside Wildwood Metropark, an area that is not routinely sprayed.

The Toledo- Lucas County Health Commissioner is warning everyone to be aware that mosquitoes are still a risk and if you are outdoors between dawn and dusk, pay attention.

"Although we're getting closer to the end of summer, you can still be at risk of getting West Nile virus," said Eric Zgodzinki, Health Commissioner. "It's important for everyone to continue taking precautions such as wearing insect repellent and staying indoors between dusk and dawn."

According to the Health Department, most people with West Nile Virus have no symptoms and never become ill. When illness does occur, symptoms appear 3-15 days after the initial mosquito bite and include fever, headache, and body aches.

People of all ages are at risk, but those over 50 and those with chronic disease present the greatest risk for serious complications like encephalitis or meningitis.

People experiencing high fever, confusion, muscle weakness, severe headaches, or a stiff neck should see a doctor immediately.