October 17, 2012
LIMA — A Lima man has died from the West Nile virus, the Allen County Health Department reported.
David “Kim” Sunderhaus, 58, died Saturday at Kindred Hospital in Lima, surrounded by his family, according to his obituary.
His death was reported Wednesday to the Allen County Health Department, which did not release his name, and marks Ohio’s sixth death attributed to the virus.
“We would like to extend our condolences to the family and friends of this individual,” said Kathy Luhn, Allen County health commissioner.
Also on Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the number of West Nile virus cases nationally has reached 4,531, making 2012 the nation’s second-worst year on record for the disease.
There were three individuals in the county who were infected with the virus in August, according to officials at September’s Allen County Health Board meeting.
Becky Dershem, Allen County Health Department director of nursing, said people were continuing to be hospitalized and in critical condition at the Sept. 14 meeting.
The three cases she described were a 40-year-old man who thought he contracted the virus in Allen County, a 56-year-old woman who believed she was exposed to the virus in Texas, and an 84-year-old woman who thought she was exposed in Allen County. All three were hospitalized.
“We do have reports of people continuing to be hospitalized,” Dershem said, “And some of them are now in critical condition. So just be aware.”
The milder form of the mosquito-borne disease causes flu-like symptoms and is rarely lethal, but the neuroinvasive form is much more severe.
Most cases in Allen County have been neuroinvasive in nature, Dershem said. That means the patients have taken on a more serious form of the virus, with symptoms such as headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and even paralysis.
“The majority of cases we’ve seen in Allen County have required hospitalization,” Dershem said. “The individuals have been very sick, some requiring extensive treatment. And as I said, we do have reports now of some folks currently hospitalized and in bad condition.”
The CDC reported another 15 deaths from the virus last week, bringing the total to 183 deaths nationwide.
According to Allen County health officials, Ohio had 110 recorded human cases as of Oct. 11. In 2011, there was a total of 21 cases in the state. They said four out of five people infected with the virus will not develop any symptoms of the disease.
With the cooler temperatures, mosquito activity and the cases of West Nile virus are declining.