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Health and Medicine

Ohio will stop counting West Nile virus mosquitoes
State health department will no longer count mosquitoes for local health departments and warn virus is here to stay

Reporter / Host
Jeff St. Clair
Local health departments will be guessing this summer whether mosquitoes like this carry West Nile virus after the state cancelled it's testing program due to federal budget cuts.
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Federal budget cuts are forcing the Ohio Department of Health to stop testing mosquitoes to see if the insects are carrying West Nile virus.  WKSU’s Jeff St.Clair reports it’s also recognition that the disease is here to stay.


S.Clair - West Nile testing cancelled

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Fifty-nine Ohioans have died of West Nile virus since the disease arrived in Ohio a decade ago. Last year, 121 people came down with West Nile with seven fatalities. 

Cuyahoga County had the highest number of cases, and according to mosquito program manager Joe Lynch, relied on the state for testing mosquitoes.

“We’ve sent between 5,000 and 10,000 mosquitoes annually to be identified and tested.” But this year, Lynch says his department will use private or out-of-state testing labs if West Nile becomes a problem.

Ohio Department of Health spokeswoman Tess Pollock says we should just assume that West Nile is a risk. “It’s here and whether or not the mosquito pool in your neighborhood has tested positive, you should be taking precautions against mosquito bites.”

The cancelled West Nile testing program had cost $265,000 annually.

Health officials caution that the highest risk for West Nile comes during the driest weeks of late summer.

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