ELKHART — Mosquitoes in Elkhart County were out early and strong this year, in part because of the wet spring, but West Nile hasn’t shown up in Elkhart County so far, according to the Elkhart County Health Department.
“There have been a couple counties in Indiana where the virus has been in mosquitoes, but not in people,” Gabe Cameron, environmental health supervisor at the Elkhart County Health Department said Wednesday, July 17.
She said that Adams, Clinton, Grant, Hamilton, Jefferson, Vigo, Allen, and Starke counties have all reported mosquitoes with West Nile virus.
In Elkhart County, mosquitoes are collected at six sites weekly and sent to the State Department of Health to be tested for the virus, according to Cameron. None of them have had the West Nile virus.
Environmentalists start thinking about mosquitoes and their potential impact on local residents in May, and Cameron said the danger of infection drops off after the first hard freeze.
During the summer months, the health department often receives calls from homeowners concerned that their pool is a breeding ground for mosquitoes. When this happens, summer interns under the supervision of an environmentalist will test the pool for mosquito larvae.
Symptoms of West Nile virus in people are rare, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Between 70 and 80 percent of people who are infected won’t develop symptoms. Symptoms that could indicate West Nile virus include fever, headaches, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash.
To avoid West Nile infection, Cameron advises wearing protective clothing, using insect repellent with DEET, emptying containers that contain standing water, cutting tall grass, and avoiding the outdoors at dusk and dawn.
“Anytime there is standing, stagnant water that’s the type of water that mosquitoes like to breed in,” Cameron said.
In 2012, 77 people in Indiana were infected with West Nile virus, according to the CDC. Eight people died.
The CDC publishes an interactive, regularly updated map of West Nile virus activity by state on its website, www.cdc.gov.