West Nile virus threat depends on Tri-State area weather - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Steve: "West Nile threat really is an issue of weather"

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CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -

The first human case of West Nile virus in the Tri-State was reported last week in Ripley County, Indiana.

However, with the up-and-down summer weather we've had this season, could the problem become worse than other years? The answer to that actually depends on the weather.

The only West Nile activity in Ohio has been non-human, and there are no reports yet of any activity in Kentucky. 

With the wild weather we've seen, that might explain why West Nile Virus isn't as prevalent right now.

"The weather has not been that favorable for West Nile yet.  If the weather gets a little bit more favorable, it could get worse than it was even though it's not been that bad so far.  It really is an issue of weather," said FOX19 Chief Meteorologist Steve Horstmeyer.

Local health department officials agree: It's just a matter of time.

"Typically what happens as summer goes on, and even into early fall, is when you see the biggest number of mosquitoes.  So, we're kind of on the precipice of that," said Steve Divine of the Northern Kentucky Health Department.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says most cases of West Nile actually aren't that harmful.  Less than one percent of people see serious health problems, such as meningitis. However, doctors say it's a disease that's been prevalent for nearly 15 years around here.

"This year with having been a wet season, we certainly expect to see more West Nile disease than previously but it's always going to be around," said Dr. George Smulian, director of infectious diseases at the University of Cincinnati.

Things could get worse the deeper into summer we get.  If conditions are right, breeding of mosquitoes increases. The wetter the weather, the more mosquitoes you'll see.

"We've been kind of up and down this summer, so it's kind of like a neutral ground as far as the mosquito populations go.  However, if we stay fairly wet, which is what the long-term outlook for the next 90 days is, it could favor the growth of mosquito populations, and therefore, the virus," added Horstmeyer.

Looking at last year's final infection numbers from the CDC's website, which were reported to ArboNET, Ohio had 121 cases, Indiana had 77 cases and Kentucky had 23.

Nationwide, the CDC says, as of last week, only 31 cases were reported and three people have died.  

To see how you can prevent West Nile Virus, follow this link: http://www.cdc.gov/westnile/prevention/

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