MONTPELIER — With spring and summer comes mosquito and tick season in Ohio, and the risk for diseases such as West Nile virus and Lyme disease.
According to a recent report by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), illnesses from mosquito, tick and flea bites have tripled in the United States, with more than 640,000 cases reported during the 13 years from 2004 through 2016.
Nine new germs spread by mosquitoes and ticks were discovered or introduced into the United States during this time, the CDC said in a recent Vital Signs monthly report, which examined data trends and identified the growing burden of mosquito-borne and tick-borne illnesses in the U.S.
And with the extraordinarily wet spring, the Williams County Health Department is reminding everyone to protect themselves from mosquito and tick bites, and passing along tips to prevent mosquito-borne and tick-borne diseases.
“We have entered the active season for mosquitoes and ticks in Ohio. Mosquitoes can carry diseases such as West Nile virus and ticks can carry Lyme disease,” said Brad Price, Director of Environmental Health for the Williams County Health Department.
To raise local awareness, the Williams County Health Department, in partnership with the Williams County Engineer’s Office, is putting up signs with quick tips on how to avoid mosquito and tick bites.
Price said the signs are provided by the Ohio Department of Health. County Engineer Todd Roth is placing the signs at the parking lots in each of the three county parks: Opdycke, George Bible and Goldie Newman parks.
The signs give a few tips on how to avoid bites and also have links to websites with more information.
“It’s just to raise awareness and remind people that mosquitoes and ticks carry diseases, but if you have the right information, it can help you avoid getting bit,” Price said, adding that if you have a bug and you’re not sure if it’s a tick, the ODH will do testing to confirm. (Bring it to the Williams County Health Department, 310 Lincoln Ave., Montpelier. Or phone 419-485-3141).
Price said the ODH will not do disease testing, so if you’ve been bitten and want to be tested for West Nile virus or Zika virus, see your medical provider.
The Ohio Department of Health reported eight human cases of West Nile virus in Ohio in 2018, including the first fatality in the state, a 91-year-old man from Williams County who was hospitalized in Indiana with neuroinvasive West Nile virus (encephalitis).
In recent years, Ohio reported 11 human West Nile virus cases in 2014, 24 in 2013, and 122 in 2012.
Price said the Zika virus disease is caused by a virus transmitted primarily by Aedes mosquitoes, which bite during the day. Symptoms are generally mild and include fever, rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise or headache.
In 2018, there were 28 cases reported confirmed and probable for the Zika virus disease in the U.S. Williams County had no reported Zika virus cases in 2018, while California had the most — 12 confirmed cases.