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Bartholomew County Health Department has increased its efforts to kill mosquitoes after a pool of the insects here tested positive for West Nile virus.
The department has been spraying insecticide throughout the county after the first positive test this year.
Spraying this week has included covering areas where large groups of people will gather, including today’s Columbus East-Columbus North football game at East and Saturday’s Our Hospice of South Central Indiana concert at Mill Race Park.
The mosquitoes that tested positive were collected Aug. 2 at First and Water streets in downtown Columbus, said Matthew Galbraith, environmental health specialist with the Bartholomew County Health Department.
West Nile virus is transmitted to a human by a mosquito that has first bitten an infected bird. Once infected, the person may show symptoms in three to 15 days, according to the health department.
Most people have no or very mild symptoms. A few individuals will have a more severe form of the disease, encephalitis or meningitis, the health department said.
West Nile virus symptoms can include high fever, headache, stiff neck, muscle weakness or paralysis and confusion. Those who suspect they have the virus should seek medical attention, the health department said.
Health officials say the disease has been reported in people from age 9 months to 94, but the most severe disease is reported in individuals over age 50 or those with weakened immune systems.
The Indiana State Department of Health has reported only one human case this year, in Ripley County, and no deaths.
Each summer, the state routinely collects mosquitoes in traps about twice a week at three Bartholomew County locations: First and Water streets, near Lincoln Park and near Taylorsville, Galbraith said.
Confirmation of the virus includes testing ground-up mosquitoes. The Aug. 2 batch from Bartholomew County showed West Nile virus was active here and set in motion steps to notify the public and increase the number of insecticide sprays.
West Nile virus was last detected in the county in July 2012, from mosquitoes collected near Lincoln Park.
Bartholomew County joins a growing list of counties reporting the virus in mosquitoes this year. The latest state report, released Wednesday, shows that 59 counties, including neighboring Johnson and Shelby counties, have confirmed the presence of West Nile virus in mosquitoes, said Ken Severson, spokesman for the State Department of Health.
The Bartholomew County Health Department has begun spraying insecticide twice a week, typically on Wednesday and Thursday evenings.
Galbraith said the department began spraying before the virus confirmation because the office already was hearing reports of increased mosquitoes in the area.
The health department also has begun concentrating its mosquito-control efforts in the area where the virus activity was detected.
Galbraith said the recent hot and dry weather has been ideal for the type of mosquitoes that spread the virus.
Instead of the nuisance-biting mosquitoes that hang around areas with lots of water, these mosquitoes are the ones who breed in stagnant, standing water, he said.
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