(MITCHELL) - According to Brenda Cummings of the Lawrence County Health Department, two batches of mosquitoes from the Mitchell area tested positive for the West Nile virus.
The insects had been collected by a representative of the Indiana State Department of Health on Aug. 31.
Cummings reported that about 1 in 5 people who are infected with West Nile virus will develop symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or rash.
Less than 1 percent will develop a serious neurologic illness such as encephalitis or meningitis (inflammation of the brain or surrounding tissues). But of those who develop neurologic infection, about 10 percent will die.
People older than 50 and those with certain medical conditions - such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease and organ transplants - are at greater risk for serious illness.
There are no medications to treat, or vaccines to prevent, West Nile virus infection. People with milder illnesses typically recover on their own, although symptoms may last for several weeks.
In more severe cases, Cummings reported, patients often need to be hospitalized to receive supportive treatment, such as intravenous fluids, pain medication, and nursing care. Anyone who has symptoms that cause concern should contact a health care provider.
West Nile virus is transmitted to people by infected mosquitoes. In the United States, most people are infected from June through September, and the number of these infections usually peaks in mid-August. Seasonal outbreaks often occur in local areas that can vary from year to year. Many factors impact when and where outbreaks occur, such as weather, numbers of mosquitoes that spread the virus, and human behavior.
According to the health department, the best way to prevent West Nile virus disease is to avoid mosquito bites by:
* Using insect repellents when you go outdoors.
* Wearing long sleeves and pants during dawn and dusk.
* Installing or repairing screens on windows and doors.
* Emptying standing water from items - such as flowerpots, buckets and kiddie pools - outside your home.
More information is available at www.cdc.gov/westnile.
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