Programs & Services

Nursing Services- West Nile Virus - Portage County  Health Department



Rosemary Ferraro R.N., B.S.N., Nursing Director


Childhood Immunizations | Adult Immunizations | HIPAA Policy
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Office Hours:  8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
 Monday through Friday
Contact Information


What is the West Nile Virus?

The West Nile Virus, previously only found in Africa, Eastern Europe and West Asia, appeared during the summer of 1999 in New York. It is carried by several kinds of mosquitoes that infect birds, animals and people.

This virus can cause encephalitis, which is an infection of the brain.

As of the summer of 2002, West Nile Virus has been identified in mosquitoes, birds, horses and humans in Ohio.

West Nile encephalitis cases occur primarily in the late summer or early fall, although the peak season is usually April-October. The virus is spread by mosquitoes after they feed on infected birds and then bite people or other animals. It is not spread by person-to-person contact. There is no evidence that people can get the disease by handling infected animals.

The virus was introduced in the summer of 1999 in New York City. Of the 61 people infected with the virus, 7 died. All of the people who died from the virus were age 75 or older.

Who is most at risk?

People over 50 years of age have the highest risk of developing severe illness because as we age, our bodies have a harder time fighting off disease. People with compromised immune systems are also at risk; however, anyone can get the virus.

What are the symptoms?

People with mild infections may experience fever, headache, body aches, skin rash and swollen lymph glands. People with more severe infections may experience high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, occasional convulsions and paralysis. If you have any of these symptoms, contact your doctor.

Is there treatment?

There is no specific treatment for a West Nile Virus infection. While most people fully recover from the virus, in some severe cases hospitalization may be needed.


How can I prevent mosquitoes from breeding?

Any time is a good time to eliminate areas where mosquitoes breed. Tear off this sheet and put it on your refrigerator for easy reference!

  • Dispose of tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or similar water holding containers that have accumulated on your property;
  • Pay special attention to discarded tires on your property;
  • Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers that are left outdoors;

    Clean clogged roof gutters;
  • Turn over plastic wading pools when not in use;
  • Aerate ornamental pools or stock them with fish;
  • Clean and chlorinate swimming pools that are not being used;
  • Use landscaping to eliminate standing water on your property (fill in ruts and low areas); and
  • Keep weeds cut back and mow the lawn regularly.
If the virus is found in my area, how can I protect myself?

If the virus is found in your area, there are several, easy ways you can protect yourself from getting bit by a mosquito.

  • Use insect repellent according to the manufacturer’s instructions. An effective repellent will contain 20-30 percent DEET. Avoid using products containing more than 30 percent DEET, since in high concentrations it may cause side effects, particularly in children;
  • (Note: Insect repellents should not be applied to children less than 3 years old)
  • Spray clothing with repellents;
  • When possible, reduce your outdoor exposure, especially at dawn, dusk and in the early evening during peak mosquito active periods (usually April through October);
  • Wear light colored clothing; and
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants whenever you are outdoors.
Contact Us

449 S. Meridian St., 3rd Floor, Portage County Admin. Bldg.
Ravenna, Ohio 44266
Ph: 330-296-9919  Fax: 330-297-3597 E-Mail:

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