GREENCASTLE -- Amid positive cases reported in Allen, Hamilton, Marion and Montgomery counties, no confirmed strains of the West Nile Virus have been reported in Putnam County so far this year, according to local health officials.
Doug Ehmen, public health coordinator and environmental health specialist for the Putnam County Health Department, said the county has sent three samples tested from the county into the Department of Health Entomology Laboratory in Indianapolis last week but has not received back results yet.
"Usually that's a case of no news is good news," he said.
Ehmen said his department collects samples in the middle of June and July in addition to the samples the state department collects, which are both tested at the state lab in Indianapolis.
He also noted that because the state department is handling so many samples at once, if a county doesn't hear back from the lab that usually means the results came back negative.
"It's not to say that we won't, we're continuing to send things for testing," he said. "We don't expect things to get better until the weather improves, especially with the rain we've been getting."
Mosquitoes sent in for testing collected from an area near the Greencastle sewer plant tested positive for West Nile last year, and in 2008, a dead crow collected in Putnam County also tested positive.
Ehman said even though outbreaks have happened in other areas of the state so far this year, Putnam County residents can still prepare themselves for West Nile virus protection.
"Using insect repellent will go a long way in preventing any mosquito-borne infections," he said.
West Nile virus is commonly found throughout the state each summer, so it is expected to see activity in more counties as the season progresses, according to a release from the Indiana State Department of Health. In 2009, West Nile virus was found in mosquitoes in 24 Indiana counties.
"As soon as we start detecting West Nile virus in mosquitoes, we know people are at greater risk for infection," said Jennifer House, DVM, veterinary epidemiologist at the Indiana State Department of Health. "The good news is there are simple, effective steps Hoosiers can take to protect themselves from being bitten by a mosquito."
According to the IDSH, "West Nile Virus usually causes a mild form of the illness, which can include fever, headache, body aches, swollen lymph glands, or a rash."
According to a release from the ISDH, a small number of individuals can develop a more severe form of the disease with encephalitis or meningitis and other neurological syndromes.
West Nile virus is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes that have first bitten an infected bird. A person bitten by an infected mosquito may show symptoms three to 15 days after the bite, according to the news release.
"Mosquito-transmitted diseases commonly occur in August and September so Hoosiers should take the proper precautions to prevent being bitten," House said.
For more information, visit the Indiana State Department of Health website at: www.statehealth.IN.gov.