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West Nile found in county’s mosquitoes

A pool of culex pipiens and culex restuans mosquitoes collected several weeks ago in Harrison County has tested positive for West Nile Virus. While restuans feed entirely on birds, pipiens do feed secondarily on humans, with peak feeding times at dusk and dawn.
West Nile Virus is primarily a disease of birds transmitted by mosquitoes, but it can also cause illness in humans and horses. Most people infected with West Nile will not develop symptoms, or will experience mild illness.
Though it’s important to keep the risks in perspective, sanitarian Tracy Monroe of the Harrison County Health Dept. said it’s also important to ‘protect yourself from mosquitoes and do what you can to rid your environment of them.’
The culex species of mosquitoes breeds in water with a high organic component, Monroe said. This would include standing water and leaky septic systems. The department has posted information on the Web at www.harrisoncountyhealth.com.
‘What we are trying to stress with this thing is even though there were positives that were found, continue to use your insect repellent with DEET, be sure to empty water containers, fix leaky septic systems and fill in ditches,’ Monroe said.
The virus may cause some people to become ill three to 15 days after the bite of an infected mosquito. The symptoms may include fever, headache, body aches and sometimes a skin rash and swollen glands, according to information provided by LaGrange County Health Dept. and distributed by Harrison County.
Infrequently, an infection may result in West Nile encephalitis, a more serious condition of which a small number of cases have been fatal. Only about one infected person in 150 has become seriously ill, according to Cornell University’s Environmental Risk Assessment Program.
Severe illness and deaths are much more common in individuals more than 50 years of age. Few if any cases of serious illness have involved children.
In 2002, Indiana had 293 human cases of West Nile virus, including 11 deaths. In contrast, the flu results in the deaths of about 20,000 Americans each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

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