First 2018 West Nile-related death in Ohio has family calling for awareness

(WSYX/WTTE)

The first human West Nile virus case was reported in Ross County this week. Now family of 81 year old Clyde Warth said they are planning his funeral after he passed away Sunday from West Nile complications.

In Ohio, 20 counties have reported West Nile Virus activity in mosquitoes collected and tested as a part of statewide surveillance to date. Thirty-four human West Nile Virus cases were reported by the Ohio Department of Health in 2017, including 5 deaths.

Warth’s daughter Marcia said they are heartbroken over the loss and hoping more people will become aware of the illness. “You think that is something that happens somewhere else. To somebody else,” said Warth. “It knows no boundaries. Anybody is its’ victim.”

The Ohio Department of Health has noted that this year’s West Nile Virus activity in mosquitoes is the highest the state has seen this early in the season since 2012, when Ohio reported 122 human West Nile Virus cases for the year.

The primary transmission of West Nile Virus is through the bite of an infected mosquito, and 8 out of 10 who become infected with West Nile Virus experience no symptoms. One in five who do become infected may develop a fever and experience other symptoms including headache, body aches, joint pain, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash. Symptom development usually occurs between 2 and 14 days after being bitten by the infected mosquito.

One percent of individuals who become infected develop a serious neurological illness, such as en-cephalitis or meningitis. It is important to note that there are no medications to treat, or vaccines to prevent West Nile Virus infection.

“It’s very scary. And seeing my dad the way he was the whole last month was heartbreaking,” said Warth.

People in the neighborhood remembered Warth as always outside and often fixing things. Phil Butcher said he and Warth shared a love of motorcycles. “Clyde was just a wonderful guy. Just a beautiful soul. Nice person.”

“The woods back here are awful wet. There is a lot of water that stands in there with all this rain. So it’s a little bit of a concern there,” said Butcher. “My wife called the health department this morning. We want to talk to them to see if they should spray.”

“It’s a shame. It’s a real loss for his family obviously and a loss for the neighborhood,” said Butcher.

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