West Nile virus detected in Elkhart County; officials urge precautions
Posted: 08/19/2013 at 11:45 am
By: Angelle Barbazon
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This undated image shows a mosquito, an insect known to be a carrier of the West Nile virus. (Photo Supplied)
Health department environmentalist Tara Still said Monday, Aug. 19, that mosquitoes with West Nile were expected to show up in Elkhart County because at least 35 other Indiana counties have detected the virus. The transmission of mosquito-borne diseases to humans is more common during late summer, so the health department asks residents to take precautions.
Preventative measures include wearing bug repellent and wearing long sleeves and pants when outdoors. The type of mosquitoes that typically carry West Nile virus, Still said, breed in standing water such as in bird baths, buckets, flower pots that are left outside and blocked rain gutters.
“Look around with new eyes and empty containers,” Still suggested. “All mosquitoes need is seven days or less if it is warm to start the breeding process.”
Though most people do not exhibit symptoms of West Nile virus, about 20 percent of people develop a mild infection known as West Nile fever, according to the health department. Symptoms of West Nile fever include headaches, body aches, fatigue, fever and occasionally skin rashes, swollen lymph glands and eye pain.
West Nile can cause serious neurological infections in less than 1 percent of people who have contracted the virus. Infections may include inflammation of the brain or its surrounding membranes. Serious infections can also affect the spinal cord or cause sudden weakness in arms, legs or breathing muscles.
Symptoms of these diseases include high fever, severe headache, stiff neck, disorientation or confusion, stupor or coma and tremors or muscle jerking. Other signs include lack of coordination, convulsions, pain and partial paralysis or sudden weakness.
Symptoms of West Nile fever usually last a few days, but more severe forms of the virus can create symptoms that linger for weeks. Certain neurological effects, such as muscle weakness, may be permanent. While mild symptoms of West Nile fever usually resolve on their own, serious infections generally require hospitalization.