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Mosquitoes in Columbus have tested positive for West Nile Virus, and local health officials are urging residents to take precautions.
The mosquitoes that tested positive were collected in Lincoln Park, south of 25th Street and north of Columbus Regional Hospital.
“We want the entire county to be on alert,” said Matthew Galbraith, environmental health specialist with the Bartholomew County Health Department. “We know the virus is active.”
The most severe cases can cause inflammation of the brain or membrane around the brain, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
Mosquitoes in Columbus have tested positive for West Nile Virus. Information about the virus and how to protect yourself:
What it is: West Nile Virus is a flavivirus commonly found in Africa, West Asia, and the Middle East. The virus can infect humans, birds, mosquitoes, horses and some other mammals.
Symptoms: Fever, headache, tiredness, and body aches, occasionally with a skin rash (on the trunk of the body) and swollen lymph glands.
Severe cases: Can cause encephalitis or meningitis, inflammation of the membrane around the brain and the spinal cord. West Nile Fever can cause people to be sick for weeks. About one in five people infected with the virus develop the fever.
Drain standing water
Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants
Use mosquito repellent, especially those containing DEET
Consider avoiding outdoor activities during peak biting times: mornings and evenings
Install or repair screens
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
In about 20 percent of infections, people contract West Nile fever, which is characterized by fever, headache, tiredness, aches and sometimes rash. Although the illness can be as short as a few days, even healthy people have been sick for several weeks, the CDC said.
Bartholomew County last year also had mosquitoes that tested positive, and a few years ago had birds that tested positive for the virus, Galbraith said, but the county has had no human cases.
Nonetheless, he said that people who go outside should wear long sleeves and pants to protect themselves. People also should wear a mosquito repellent, preferably one that contains DEET.
Residents also should eliminate areas of standing water that can provide a breeding ground for mosquitoes; old tires should be properly discarded, Galbraith said. He also recently found standing water in an old boat. Swimming pools that are not in use should be drained, he said.
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