News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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August 6, 2013

West Nile virus found across Vigo

County remains 2nd in state in confirmed virus samples, up from 2012

TERRE HAUTE — Vigo remains one of the most active counties in the state for West Nile virus, health officials said Monday.

The Vigo County Health Department confirmed that now eight mosquito samples have tested positive for the virus, which can cause illness or — in rare cases — even death in humans.

The eight mosquito pools testing positive are from different parts of Vigo County, as opposed to just one or two areas, said Sydney Elliott, health educator for the Vigo County Health Department.

Last year at this time there were six positive pool samples in the county, Elliott said. “So, we are seeing an increase from last year.”

At 77 cases, 2012 had the highest number of reported human cases in Indiana since the first known West Nile activity in 2002, according to the Indiana State Department of Health.

To protect yourself from West Nile, Elliott reminds people to wear long-sleeved shirts and to use mosquito repellent containing DEET, which is the active ingredient in many insect repellents.

It’s also important to change the water daily in outdoor dog dishes, flower pots, bird baths and other potential breeding sites for mosquitoes, she said.

“Checking your property is the No. 1 most important thing,” Elliott said. Discarded tires can also collect rain water and become mosquito breeding sites, she added.

Vigo County, with eight positive samples, is second in the state behind Allen County in the northeast part of Indiana, where nine samples have tested positive. Nineteen Hoosier counties have had positive samples this year, including Knox (two), Sullivan (one) and Montgomery (one). In all, 39 mosquito pools have tested positive, according to the ISDH.

Meanwhile, the Vigo County Health Department is continuing to spray and larvicide, Elliott said. That will continue through the rest of the warm-weather months until the first frost, she said.

The current spraying schedule is available on the county website at www.vigocounty.in.gov under the Health Department section. Spraying will not take place when people are present, Elliott added.

There remains one human case of West Nile reported in Indiana this year, said Ken Severson, spokesperson for the Indiana State Department of Health. That case was in Ripley County, about 40 miles west of Cincinnati, he said.

West Nile virus is most commonly transmitted to humans through mosquito bites. Most people infected with the virus show no symptoms. About one in five develops a fever, and fewer than 1 percent develop a more serious, even fatal, neurological illness. In 2012, eight deaths in Indiana were linked to West Nile, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Vigo County Health Department officials collect mosquito samples from around the county each day, Elliott said. Each week, those samples are sent to the Indiana State Department of Health for testing, she said.

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or arthur.foulkes@tribstar.com

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