Clark County Health District: Neighbors should take steps to stop Zika

Clark County health district workers want neighbors in one Northridge area to take precautions against mosquitoes after a suspected case of Zika virus has been reported.

Workers instructed neighbors in the area of Willow and Ridgewood roads to check their yards for any items that could hold standing water. Residents should empty these items at least once a week to prevent mosquitoes from breeding, Clark County Combined Health District Commissioner Charles Patterson said.

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The health district was alerted to a possible case of Zika by a local doctor on Friday, he said. A man who recently visited a Zika hot spot was exhibiting several symptoms of the virus. The man has been tested, Patterson said, but the results might not be available for another three weeks.

“We all agreed that we really couldn’t wait three weeks to notify the public and move forward,” he said.

The man has been told to stay indoors, Patterson said, or to wear bug spray, long sleeves and pants if he does go outside.

“In this case we’re actually trying to protect the mosquitoes from biting a person that has a virus,” he said, “because then they would be able to be infected.”

Neighbors like Marlee McNeil said she’s shocked there’s a possibility of a case of Zika so nearby.

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“It’s kind of surprising but it’s good that they’re taking precautions and warning the neighbors,” she said.

She plans to take extra steps to prevent being bit by the bugs, she said.

“I’ll definitely … be putting some bug spray on or an extra layer, that’s for sure,” she said.

If the test returns positive in three weeks, Patterson said neighbors should remain on high alert for about another week.

The health district plans to begin trapping mosquitoes in the area later this week, Patterson. said. It wasn’t able to begin earlier because of the rain.

And while the weather has been warm, he said the recent ups and downs in temperature have meant bad conditions for mosquito breeding.

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“The cooler nights really slows the activity of the mosquitoes down,” he said.

Workers will use the traps to look for the type of mosquito that carries Zika. If that species is found, then the health district will begin spraying to cut down the population.

This patient is the first ever suspected case of Zika in Clark County, Patterson said, and the third in Ohio this year. The state saw 95 cases last year, he said, 94 of which were contracted overseas and one was transmitted through sexual contact.

One case was reported in Champaign County in August 2016 when a resident there returned from a trip to a Zika hot spot.

Residents should take into account the virus when planning travel, Patterson said. Zika remains prevalent in South and Central America, he said, as well as some parts of the Caribbean. Pregnant women or women who plan to get pregnant should be especially careful, he said, since the virus can cause birth defects.

More information on the virus is available at the health district's web site at 

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