West Nile virus back in Whitley County

     Once again, Whitley County has mosquitoes in it that tested positive for West Nile Virus during the state’s latest round of tests.
     The Indiana State Department of Health took samples in the county Aug. 31 and found two pools of mosquitoes with the West Nile virus, according to Scott Wagner, environmental health specialist for the Whitley County Health Department.
     West Nile has been found in the county for several years and has been in the same location during the last several tests.
     Wagner said the mosquitoes that tested positive were found in Columbia City, but would not give a more specific location.
     Columbia City sprayed for mosquitoes several times this year, but its main focus is on larvicide briquettes for standing water.
     The briquettes are more effective and cheaper than spraying and stop the mosquito population before it gets a chance to grow.
     In an urban area, mosquitoes tend to breed in storm sewer catch basins, which is one area briquettes are placed.
     No cases in people have been reported yet, according to Wagner.
     Despite a record-dry August, anyone with standing water in containers on their property should empty them.
     “Anything that can hold water, eaves, buckets … those need to be turned over and emptied,” Wagner said.
     The virus is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes that have bitten an infected bird.
     Symptoms usually show within three days in people.
     The virus results in a mild illness known as West Nile fever, which can cause fever, headache, body aches, swollen lymph glands or a rash.
     A small number of people can suffer from a more severe form of the disease that includes encephalitis or meningitis, or flaccid muscle paralysis.
     There is currently no vaccine or detailed medical treatment for people infected with the virus.
     The West Nile virus was first found in Indiana in 2001, and according to the ISDH, there have been 378 cases that resulted in 16 deaths.
     People older than 50 are at greatest risk from the virus, but anyone can be infected.