News From Terre Haute, Indiana

July 24, 2012

West Nile found in Valley counties

Putnam, with 8 cases, second highest in state

Sue Loughlin
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Vigo, Vermillion, Clay, Parke and Putnam counties have all had mosquito samplings test positive for West Nile Virus, according to the Indiana Department of Heath.

In Vigo County, one sampling of mosquitoes collected July 6 has tested positive, according to the Vigo County Health Department.

Other Wabash Valley counties and the number of positive mosquito samplings: Putnam County, eight; Parke, three; and Vermillion and Clay, one each.

Putnam has the second-highest number of positive samplings in the state after Marion County, said Ken Severson, media relations coordinator with the Indiana State Department of Health.

There have not been any identified human cases yet, Severson said.

In Vigo County, the confirmation of mosquitoes with West Nile “should be of some concern,” said Sydney Elliott, spokeswoman for the Vigo County Health Department.

Even though drought conditions exist, Culex mosquitoes that carry West Nile Virus are still here, Elliott said.

The water that is out there is stagnant, and that’s where the Culex mosquitoes like to breed. Culex mosquitoes are container breeders. “They like little, tiny areas to breed in. They are not the kind flying down by the river,” Joni Wise, health department administrator, said last week.

People outside between dusk and dawn should take precautions, including wearing insect repellent containing DEET, Elliott said.

The health department also advises residents to:

• Maintain windows and door screens to keep mosquitoes out of your home.

• Inspect and clean rain gutters.

• Check your property for containers that can hold water or have standing water — unused flower pots, wading pools, bird baths, dog dishes or any type of container that can hold water and has been left for more than a day.

Fountains and birdbaths should be flushed periodically, and water in pet bowls should be replaced frequently.

Last year, West Nile virus was found in mosquitoes in 34 Indiana counties, according to the Indiana Department of Health. Once the West Nile virus is detected in mosquitoes, people are at greater risk for infection, state officials said earlier this year.                                                                  

West Nile virus usually causes a mild form of the illness, which can include fever, headache, body aches, swollen lymph glands or a rash.

However, a small number of individuals can develop a more severe form of the disease with encephalitis or meningitis and other neurological syndromes. Some individuals may die from the infection, according to the state Department of Health.

Those over age 50 and some immunocompromised persons (for example, transplant patients) are at the highest risk for getting severely ill when infected with West Nile Virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

More than 20 Hoosiers have died from the illness, including one in 2011, since Indiana had its first human case of West Nile virus in 2002.

West Nile virus is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes that have first bitten an infected bird. A person bitten by an infected mosquito may show symptoms three to 15 days after the bite.

For more information on West Nile Virus, go to www.cdc.gov or www.statehealth.in.gov.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at (812) 231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.