The Indiana State Department of Health collects mosquito samples in many different areas throughout the county and tests them for West Nile every year. Recently, the state found a small number of mosquitoes that tested positive within Brazil City limits. However, according to Clay County Public Health Nurse Kim Hyatt, there are no confirmed cases of West Nile in humans within Indiana.
According to Registered Environmental Health Specialist Bill Hale, the positive West Nile samples are actually on a decrease compared to years past.
Most often, the virus is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds. Infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to humans and other animals when they bite. People typically develop symptoms between three-14 days after the infected mosquito bites them.
Serious symptoms of West Nile include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. These symptoms may last several weeks, and neurological effects may be permanent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Up to 20 percent of the people who become infected have symptoms such as fever, headache and body aches, nausea, vomiting and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back. Symptoms can last for as short as a few days, though even healthy people have become sick for several weeks.
However, about 80 percent of people who are infected with West Nile will not show any symptoms at all.
To avoid contracting the disease, Hale told The Brazil Times residents should avoid being outside when mosquitoes are at their peak -- in the evening hours.
"Wear repellent and even though it's hot out, wearing long sleeves is recommended," Hale said. "Use screened in porches and eliminate standing water or avoid those areas, even as dry as it is."
According to the CDC, there is no specific treatment for the virus infection. In cases with milder symptoms, people experience symptoms such as fever and aches that pass on their own, although even healthy people have become sick for several weeks. In more severe cases, people usually need to go to the hospital where they can receive supportive treatment including intravenous fluids, help with breathing and nursing care.