by Sarah Einselen Pharos-Tribune
---- — Cass County health officials say three samples of Cass County mosquitoes have tested positive for West Nile Virus.
State health officials notified the Cass County Health Department this week that the year’s first signs of West Nile Virus activity in the county had been found Aug. 7.
The virus is commonly found throughout the state each summer, according to a press release from the county health department, so it’s expected to see activity in more counties as summer rolls into fall.
Three samples, each containing a hundred mosquitoes, had some of the mosquitoes test positive for West Nile virus, according to John Weidner, registered environmental health specialist with the Cass County Health Department.
“This is the first time this year, to my knowledge, that we’ve found it in Cass County,” Weidner said.
Forty other Indiana counties had shown evidence this season of West Nile activity in mosquitoes as of Friday, according to data from the Indiana State Health Department, including Carroll, White, Miami and Fulton counties.
The Miami County Health Department reported three pools of mosquitoes tested positive earlier this month for West Nile in southern parts of the county.
Last year, mosquitoes carrying West Nile were found in all but one Indiana county.
“This is the time of year that you start seeing a lot of West Nile,” said Ken Severson, a spokesman for the state health department. Activity is likely to continue until the first hard frost this fall.
The virus may be 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, according to the state health department.
The virus usually causes a mild form of the illness, including symptoms like a fever, headache, body aches, swollen lymph glands or a rash. A small number of people can develop a more severe form of the disease.
At this time last year, health officials were investigating 10 human cases of West Nile virus statewide. This year, only one human case has been reported in Ripley County in southeastern Indiana.
The state health department recommends avoiding the outdoors during peak mosquito bite times (dusk to dawn) when possible, using insect repellent and long-sleeved shirts and pants when outside and keeping door and window screens in good repair to keep mosquitoes from entering indoors.
State health officials also want Hoosiers to rid their properties of potential mosquito breeding grounds by discarding items that could hold water and cleaning clogged roof gutters, among other steps.
More information about West Nile is available at www.statehealth.in.gov. Search for West Nile Virus in the search bar at the top of the page.
Sarah Einselen is news editor at the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 574-732-5151.