Officials urge caution as conditions are right for West Nile virus

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Local health officials are urging residents to be proactive as West Nile virus rates increase throughout the state.

No cases of the virus, which is carried by the culex mosquito, have been investigated or confirmed here, but the Jackson County Health Department is still trapping large numbers of mosquitoes.

Paul Ramsey, environmentalist with the department, said residents should act as though mosquitoes here have the virus, as it has been confirmed in the county the last 10 years.

"Just because we have not found any mosquitoes with West Nile this year, the health department assumes the mosquitoes that are active from dusk until dawn this time of year are carrying the West Nile virus and will treat accordingly," he said in a news release from the department.

The virus was confirmed in mosquitoes in Bartholomew County last month.

Residents can help limit the virus by removing standing water from their property and taking precautions when spending time outdoors at night when the mosquito bites.

"Residents are encouraged to continue to survey their property for anything that is holding water and make certain birdbaths, decorative frog ponds and pet dishes are refreshed regularly," Ramsey said.

Other sites such as gutters, discarded tires, buckets, abandoned swimming pools or anything that will hold water will be used by culex females for a location to lay eggs, he said.

West Nile virus is transmitted to a human by a mosquito that has bitten an infected bird. A person may show symptoms from three to 15 days after the bite.

Most people who are infected will have no symptoms or mild symptoms.

The virus may cause a more severe form of the disease, causing encephalitis or meningitis, with symptoms of high fever, headache, stiff neck, muscle weakness, paralysis and confusion.

Severe disease is most often present in individuals older than age 50 and those with weakened immune systems.

Ramsey said populations are expected to peak at mid-August but grow until temperatures drop below 60 degrees in the daytime.

Residents should use repellent with DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus and wear socks and shoes, long pants and long-sleeved shirts when outdoors for long periods of time.

The department also will fog areas around the county that have large outdoor gatherings and activities throughout the next two months. Ramsey said residents who have a mosquito problem in their neighborhood or home should call the department, which will share ideas for mosquito control.

Ramsey said the department will even survey individual property and advise residents on the appropriate action to resolve the issue.

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Call the Jackson County Health Department at 812-522-6474 for questions or information about mosquitoes.

The department recommends:

  • Removing standing water from property.
  • Using an insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
  • Wearing shoes, socks, long pants and long sleeves when outdoors for long periods of time at night.
  • Use mosquito netting when sleeping outdoors or in an un-screened structure.

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