LIMA — Three people in Allen County were diagnosed in August with having the West Nile virus, and more have been hospitalized for the virus in September, the Allen County Health Department reported Friday.
A 40-year-old man contracted the disease in August and was hospitalized. He believes his exposure originated in Allen County, said Becky Dershem, Allen County Health Department director of nursing.
Another 56-year-old woman was exposed to the virus and believed she had obtained it in Texas, Dershem said. The third was an 84-year-old woman, who was also hospitalized and thought she was exposed to the virus in Allen County.
“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.”
Most cases have been neuroinvasive in nature, Dershem said. That means the patients have taken on a more serious form of the virus with symptoms like 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.”
Dershem said the Centers for Disease Control released a statement saying research shows the virus is on the decline nationwide.
“The CDC made a statement this week that they do believe that we’re kind of at the peak and we’ll finally start seeing some numbers go down,” she said.
Forty-eight states have reported the virus in birds, people and mosquitoes, she said.
“Over 2,000 cases have been identified in the United States, with Texas having the most,” Dershem said.
Ohio just recently announced its first death caused by West Nile virus. A 76-year-old man from Hamilton County died Aug. 29 in connection with the disease.
“There have been 118 deaths as of Sept. 13 that have been caused because of West Nile,” Dershem said. “Ohio has noted its first West Nile death. This is the highest number of cases since 1999 when the virus was first detected.”
The Allen County Health Department is encouraging residents to take precautions to avoid the virus.
“If you’re going to be outside, use mosquito repellent. Be aware that mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn,” Dershem said.
She also said residents should wear long sleeves or pants when outside or consider staying indoors at this time.
“Make sure you have good screens on your windows. Take a tour of your house that those pesky mosquitoes don’t fly long distances,” she said. “Make sure there’s no standing water. Pots, tires, old buckets, anywhere there’s standing water.”
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