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The Ohio Department of Health has identified the state's first two human cases of West Nile Virus this year -- one of them right here in Muskingum County.
A 24-year-old Muskingum County woman was hospitalized with Encephalitis. The other case involves a 78-year-old Cuyahoga County woman. If you've been outdoors in an area where mosquitoes could be prevalent, Epidemiologist Kristen Baker said there are certain symptoms to look out for.
"West Nile Virus typically presents with fever, a headache, rash, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, joint pain or body aches," Baker said. "Most people that get infected with West Nile Virus, about 80%, have no symptoms. Of those people who develop symptoms, about one in five actually develop severe symptoms and have to go to the hospital or have complications."
While the health department said they cannot pinpoint the exact location where the woman in Muskingum County received the bite, they have since sprayed all areas where she said she may have received it. The best advice for trying to avoid the virus is simply to take every precaution to avoid mosquitoes altogether.
"It's best just to prevent yourself from getting bitten by a mosquito in general, which is to reduce the time that you're out from dusk to dawn without wearing repellant," Baker said. "Try to wear long sleeves and long pants. Also, try to remove all the standing water in your environment."
To see a list of areas that have been sprayed for mosquitoes, you can visit the Zanesville-Muskingum County Health Department website at www.zmchd.org. To report an area where mosquitoes are prevalent that needs to be sprayed, you are encouraged to call the department's mosquito hotline at 740-454-9741, extension 300..