MANSFIELD - The West Nile virus has been detected in mosquitoes in Springfield Township, officials reported.
Officials have sprayed that area to discourage transmittal of the mosquito-borne illness to residents.
"To be very clear, this is not a human infection case but our first positive West Nile virus mosquito sample this year," said Joe Harrod, director of environmental health at Richland Public Health.
West Nile is a mosquito-borne virus where human symptoms are generally mild and often mimic the flu. In extreme cases, West Nile Virus can cause encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord) or death.
About 80 percent of people who are infected with West Nile virus will not show any symptoms. Those who develop symptoms usually do so between three and 14 days after they are bitten by an infected mosquito.
The number of human cases has dropped dramatically in Ohio, from 441 in 2002 to 17 last year.
The virus tends to flare up in the summer and continue into the fall. In 2015 and 2016, there were single instances of the virus detected in mosquitoes in Richland County.
There is no specific treatment for West Nile virus infection; care is based on symptoms. The best way to avoid the virus is to prevent mosquito bites.
Residents are encouraged to protect themselves.
Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water, which includes puddles, stagnant ditches and containers such as old tires, buckets, cans, neglected swimming pools and flower pots.
"We recommend any sources of stagnant water should be emptied," said Heather Foley, health education and communications specialist at Richland Public Health.
Richland Public Health recommends the following other tips:
• Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens.
• Remove discarded tires.
• Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs. If not in use, keep pools and saunas empty and covered.
• Change water in birdbaths at least once a week.
• Clean ditches of obstructions so they drain properly.
• Use insect repellent and follow label directions.
In addition, Richland Public Health's Mosquito Control Program treats, sprays and conducts surveillance during the season to monitor disease in mosquito populations throughout the county.
Mosquitoes are the most common and widespread type of insect considered both a pest and a disease carrier. Their peak hours are between dusk and dawn.
Richland Public Health has 100 trapping sites throughout the county.
"We work diligently to encourage everyone's safety," Foley said.
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