Ohio’s first two human cases of West Nile Virus (WNV) in 2014 were identified Tuesday by the Ohio Department of Health (ODH). A 24-year-old female in Muskingum County and a 78-year-old female in Cuyahoga County have been hospitalized with encephalitis.

West Nile virus
Culex quinquefasciatus

Encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain and is caused when someone is bitten by an infected mosquito. This is the primary way people get the West Nile Virus.

“We could possibly see a growing number of human cases of the West Nile Virus infection and positive mosquito samples throughout the state,” said ODH State Epidemiologist Dr. Mary DiOrio. “Ohioans should remain vigilant and take all reasonable precautions to protect themselves against mosquito bites.”

ODH began accepting mosquitoes for identification and testing from our local cooperating agencies starting July 14. We are up to 120 positive West Nile Virus mosquito samples tested by the ODH lab plus another 10 positives reported by local health departments. The relatively low infection rates may be influenced by the low temperatures and rainfall this year.

“As infection rates are expected to increase, it is important to remind everyone to avoid mosquito bites and eliminate breeding sites,” said Dr. DiOrio.