U.S. health officials say reported West Nile virus cases -- already the most in history -- rose by 40 percent in the past week and are only expected to get worse.
In Putnam County, we just keep adding to the positive test pool total, but those infected mosquitoes have yet to take a human toll.
This week, two more pools of mosquitoes in the Putnam County have tested positive for the West Nile virus, Darrell Brackney, environmental health specialist for the Putnam County Health Department, reported.
One positive pool was at reported at Van Bibber Lake, while the other was found at Cloverdale.
Despite about a dozen positive tests now reported across Greencastle and Putnam County, there has yet to be a human case detected locally.
"We're keeping our fingers crossed," Brackney said. "We've had none here yet."
So far this year, 1,590 human cases of West Nile Virus have been reported in the U.S., including 16 in Indiana with two deaths, and health officials say the peak season for West Nile hasn't even started yet.
"It's not getting any better," Brackney said, despite the weather reversing its trend from drought conditions to the rainy season (7.21 inches in August locally).
"All that means is there are new water sources now," he said.
While not wanting to alarm people, Brackney said it is important to keep the West5 Nile issue up front.
"I don't want people to panic and say they can't go outside," he said. "It's cooler now, so evening is the ideal time to go out, but that's also the ideal time for mosquitoes."
Brackney continues to urge local residents to take precautions such as using mosquito repellant, avoiding being out at dusk or later, and emptying bird baths, old tires, cleaning gutters or anything else that tends to catch water and allow it to stagnate.
Also, persons should dress to prevent contact with the biting pests.
"If you're going to be out at dusk or later, you should wear long sleeves and long pants," Brackney suggested.
Through Aug. 1, Indiana had recorded more statewide positive tests for West Nile in 2012 than for all of last year.
"Because this virus is carried and transmitted by mosquitoes, we are all susceptible to it," State Health Commissioner Gregory Larkin, a former Greencastle physician and resident, said. "The tragic deaths we've recently experienced serves as a reminder of just how important it is to take steps to protect ourselves from mosquitoes, both indoors and outdoors."
Statewide, West Nile virus has been found in mosquitoes in 77 of the 92 Indiana counties.
West Nile virus is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes that have first bitten an infected bird.
Someone bitten by an infected mosquito may develop symptoms within three to 15 days after being bitten.
Approximately 80 percent of people infected with the virus do not experience significant symptoms, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
However, about 20 percent will experience symptoms such as headache, body aches, fever, nausea, vomiting and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back. Symptoms may last from several days to several weeks.
For more information, persons may call the Putnam County Health Department at 658-2782.