West Nile virus back in few cases thus far

By Scott Niles

Assistant News Editor

Besides the heat and working, there may be another problem to worry about this summer — the West Nile virus is back.

A virus that spread quickly last summer by means of mosquitoes, birds and other airborne creatures, is back in small cases so far this season.

Brad Espen, director of environmental health for the Bowling Green Health Department, looks for the West Nile virus to be another big concern of the 2003 summer as it was last year.

“This year the Ohio Health Department is conducting television and radio broadcasts about the concern of the virus,” Espen said. “They have also put together a brochure for people with information on the virus.”

Espen said that typically the cases of the virus do not start appearing until August or September, or toward the end of the summer, but they can appear any time.

“I recommend that if you start to feel ill and you think you might have a case of the virus, consult your physician and get a blood test done,” Espen said. “It never hurts to be safe.”

The Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) Web site also has information on the West Nile virus, including prevention tips. It says to wear insect repellent outdoors, be watchful of places around your house where water gathers where mosquitoes could possibly lay eggs and other tips.

Someone who has the virus; however, must simply wait for it to run its course, Espen said.

“There is no cure for the virus so far, accept in horses, but not for humans,” Espen said.

Finding out if you have the disease can be difficult as well, Espen said.

“The West Nile virus has little or no symptoms associated with the disease,” Espen said. “If anything, you might have mild flu-like symptoms.”

According to the CDC Web site, there is no evidence that the disease can spread from person to person or from animal to person. Mosquitoes are the major carries of the disease.

To learn more about the West Nile virus and ways to prevent it, visit www.cdc.gov.