The Indiana State Department of Health says Starke County recently tested positive for West Nile Virus.
Two mosquito batches tested for virus in the local area returned positive results, but Starke County has not reported a human case of West Nile in 2016. West Nile is largely transmitted through mosquito bites and can cause flu-like symptoms and even death in extreme cases.
Starke County Health Nurse Frank Lynch says there are a few steps residents can take to protect themselves.
“You just want to try to keep any standing water out of areas,” says Lynch. “Tires, they usually accumulate water, if you have tires, try to keep the water out of them, try and get them to some place where they’re not going to accumulate water when it does rain or anything of that nature.”
Moderate rainfalls earlier this year may have produced standing water in local yards, allowing mosquitoes to lay larva at the sites. Lynch says there are larvicides that that can be purchased to limit their presence.
West Nile virus can cause fever, upset stomach, body aches, muscle weakness, and other symptoms. To prevent contracting the virus, the health department recommends wearing long-sleeve shirts and pants during the hours mosquitoes are most active in the morning and the evening.
If you have the flu at an odd time of year, summer for instance, Lynch says blood testing for West Nile is the only way to confirm it.
“The hearing is that we have two batches in the county for this year,” says Lynch. “That does not seem out of line at all compared to previous years.”
None of the surrounding counties have experienced batches testing positive for West Nile Virus. Marion County has reported 10 mosquito batches and one human case this year.
The ISDH continually tracks West Nile Virus movements throughout the year – the map for which can be found on their website.