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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Mosquito season not over yet

Friday, September 15, 2006

With the official end of summer a little more than a week away, most residents have probably stopped worrying about mosquitoes and the West Nile Virus.

But health officials are reminding the public that they still need to be on the lookout for virus-bearing mosquitoes, known as Culex mosquitoes.

Something that may help to lessen the need for serious concern is the string of stormy days that dumped close to 2 inches of rain on the area.

"Most of the rains came at the right time to sweep out the breeding sites," Putnam County Health Officer Dr. Robert Heavin said Thursday.

Favorite places for mosquitoes to live and multiply include ditches, open septic systems, old tires filled with water, children's wading pools, bird baths and anything that holds shallow, stagnant water.

While no cases of West Nile have been reported in Putnam County this year, the illness seems to be continuing its march westward.

Health officials in nearby Hendricks County reported last week that a pool of mosquitoes taken from the Pittsboro area tested positive for the virus, however, no human cases were reported there.

The State Department of Health reported this week that a total of 14 human cases of West Nile Virus have been reported in Indiana this season. Counties to experience human cases include Porter, Lake, Elkhart, LaPorte and Vanderburgh.

According to the health department's website, the illness manifests itself in humans through high fever, headaches, stiff neck, muscle weakness, nausea, vomiting, sore joints and confusion.

Most people who are bitten by an infected mosquito will experience mild symptoms, however, people older than 50 are most susceptible to developing the most serious condition, encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain.

Dr. Heavin said he is not aware of any local cases of human West Nile during his tenure with the health department.

To avoid being bitten, health officials urge people to spray themselves with mosquito repellents containing DEET, wear long-sleeves and light-colored clothing or simply avoid being outside when the insects are most active -- dusk.

To help keep an eye on the presence of West Nile, county health officials collect dead birds and have them tested at a state laboratory.

The lab only tests Bluejays, crows, falcons and hawks because they are the most susceptible of the birds to the illness.

Many counties also test mosquitoes, however, Dr. Heavin said that because of staffing changes at the Putnam County Health Department, mosquitoes in this area have not been tested recently.

As of Wednesday, slightly more than 30 of Indiana's 92 counties had not reported cases of West Nile.

Once the first heavy frost of fall comes, typically in October, residents can rest easy that mosquito season is over for another year.

More information is available at the health department's website: www.in.gov/isdh/.

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