EATON — According to Preble County Health Commissioner Erik Balster, this summer marks the third year Preble County Public Health (PCPH) is actively collecting and testing mosquitoes present within county borders.
“Since 2014, we have recognized the need for active surveillance of zoonotic disease (diseases that are transmittable between animals and humans),” Balster said in a recent release.
According to Balster, starting at the beginning of June, PCPH has collected over 300 mosquitoes which have been sent to the Ohio Department of Health’s Vector-borne Disease Laboratory for testing.
“Once there, the types of mosquitoes will be identified, as well as tested for diseases like West Nile Virus and Zika Virus,” Balster said.
As of Aug.1, Preble County has not had a mosquito test positive for either West Nile or Zika, according to Balster.
PCPH is now collecting mosquitoes in all 12 Preble County townships.
“Every week we switch our trapping locations to three new trapping locations,” Balster said. “Our hope is that we cover all potential areas where mosquitoes could transmit disease within the county and be able to identify interventions when necessary. At the end of mosquito season we will produce a report about our findings that will be publicly available later this fall.”
Zika in Ohio
As of Aug. 1, there have not been any human cases of Zika in Ohio acquired by mosquitoes. However, there have been 27 cases acquired outside of Ohio from travel to areas where Zika is endemic. There has also been one case where an individual acquired Zika through sexual transmission.
The disease has historically occurred in Africa, Southeast Asia and islands in the Pacific Ocean. In May 2015, the Zika virus was found for the time in the Western Hemisphere in northeastern Brazil. The virus has since spread through much of the Caribbean, Central America and South America.
“To stay informed as a traveler, you can check the CDC’s website, which maintains an updated list of affected as well as associated travel notices,” Balster noted.
The primary mosquito which transmits Zika virus is the yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti, health officials said. This mosquito is found in the tropics and in the southern United States. It is not known to be established in Ohio. The Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus, is a related mosquito that is found in Ohio and may potentially transmit Zika virus, although it has not yet been implicated in the transmission of human cases in the United States.
“As a precaution, it is recommended suspected cases of Zika virus infection avoid mosquito exposure the week after symptom onset when mosquitoes are active in Ohio (May to October) in order to prevent the possibility mosquitoes might become infected by biting an infected person and then transmitting the virus to other people,” the release noted.
Zika, the virus
Most people — 80 percent — infected with Zika virus do not have any symptoms. Of those who do experience symptoms, they are usually mild and include fever, rash, joint pain or conjunctivitis (red eyes), according to health officials. Other symptoms can include muscle pain and headache. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon. Despite these relatively mild symptoms, health officials have determined there is an association between Zika virus infections in pregnant women and birth defects.
To keep up with mosquito surveillance, as well as all other public health issues, visit Preble County Public Health online at www.preblecountyhealth.org or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/PrebleCoHealth or Twitter at @PrebleCoHealth.
The Preble County General Health District office is available Monday through Friday between 8 a.m.-4 p.m. and can be reached by phone at 937-472-0087.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH.