Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department Reminds Residents of Ways to Prevent West Nile Virus and La Crosse Encephalitis  

The Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department and the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR), Bureau for Public Health are preparing for the potential return of mosquito-borne diseases West Nile virus and La Crosse encephalitis.

As infection with West Nile virus and La Crosse encephalitis occurs primarily in the summer and fall, residents should take preventive actions now to decrease risk.

“Human cases of La Crosse encephalitis usually occur in areas with water-filled containers breeding mosquitoes.  You can reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home and neighborhood by emptying standing or stagnant water from old tires, pails, barrels, cans, bottles, wading pools, flowerpots, and other containers,” said Julie L. Carey, Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department Sanitarian.  “You can also clean out clogged gutters and drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers to eliminate mosquito breeding habitats. In addition, make sure that all windows have proper screens to help keep mosquitoes out of your home.”

West Nile virus and La Crosse encephalitis are spread to people through the bite of an infected mosquito. These diseases cannot be spread from casual person-to-person contact. Symptoms include fever, headache, body aches, fatigue, confusion, weakness, nausea, vomiting and stiff neck. When outdoors during mosquito season, people can protect themselves by wearing long, loose and light colored clothing and by using mosquito repellents with DEET (at least 20%), picaridin, oil of eucalyptus, or IR3535. Mosquito repellents should always be used according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

This spring and summer the Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department will conduct their annual mosquito surveillance program.  The health department surveillance program will actively trap mosquitoes, which will be tested for West Nile, La Crosse Encephalitis, Eastern Equine Encephalitis and Saint Louis Encephalitis.

Health Department Sanitarian Julie L. Carey, who heads up the departments program, will set three types of traps through out the county during the spring and summer months.  The department uses BG-Sentinel Traps, Gravid Traps and CDC Light Traps.

DHHR’s Bureau for Public Health continues to monitor arboviral disease activity through mosquito surveillance in selected counties and through horse surveillance. Veterinarians should contact Dr. James Maxwell, State Veterinarian, West Virginia Department of Agriculture, at 304-558-2214 regarding suspected arboviral infections in horses. Horse testing is coordinated through DHHR’s Office of Laboratory Services, 304-558-3530, ext. 2602, and the Equine Testing Sample Submission Form is available at https://dhhr.wv.gov/ols/forms/Pages/default.aspx.

For more information, contact the Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department at (304) 234-3682, or visit DHHR’s Office of Epidemiology and Prevention Services website for arboviral diseases, https://oeps.wv.gov/arboviral/pages/default.aspx, or call DHHR’s Division of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at 304-558-5358, ext. 2.