Three batches of mosquitoes in Lawrence County have tested positive for the West Nile Virus. The Lawrence County Health Department is urging people to take steps to prevent being bitten.
According to Brenda Cummins of the Lawrence County Health Department, the insects were collected by a representative of the Indiana State Department of Health on Aug. 22.
The 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.
The best way to prevent West Nile virus 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. Use air conditioning, if you have it
- Draining standing water from outside items such as flowerpots, buckets and kiddie pools
Approximately one in five people who are infected with West Nile virus will develop symptoms. Those symptoms can include fever, headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or rashes.
Fewer than 1 percent will develop a serious neurologic illness such as encephalitis or meningitis (inflammation of the brain or surrounding tissues). But about 10 percent of people who develop neurologic infection because of West Nile virus 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, according to Cummins’ report, although symptoms may last for several weeks. In more severe cases, 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, Cummins advised.