West Nile Virus Confirmed Early This Year

First signs of West Nile virus activity in Indiana have already been confirmed – a full month sooner than last year. Mosquitoes in Orange County have tested positive for the virus, considerably earlier than the first positive mosquitoes found last year in Mid-July. State health officials say it’s not possible to predict the severity of this year’s West Nile virus season, as temperatures and rainfall will have an impact. Last year, the virus was found in mosquitoes in 34 counties.

Starke County Health Nurse Frank Lynch has a number of tips for those looking to avoid mosquitoes.

“Big thing is to just be insect repellant when you’re outdoors, try to avoid mosquito-infested areas around dusk to dawn – that’s when they’re most prevalent, use your repellant, screens on the windows and doors, and any standing water – bird baths, puddles, anything like that – try to keep those cleaned out as best as possible,” said Lynch.

Pulaski County Health Nurse Andrea Keller says other big attractions for mosquitoes are used tires left outside, as these gather standing water.

The West Nile virus usually causes a mild form of the illness, which can include fever, headache, body aches, swollen lymph glads, or a rash. However, Lynch says that occasionally serious symptoms do develop. He says one in about 150 people with the virus will develop severe illness including high fever, headache, neck stiffness, disorientation, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, and other symptoms. He says the physical effects could last several weeks, but the neurological effects may be permanent.

Fortunately, Lynch says that about 80 percent of people who contract the virus will not show any symptoms at all.