West Nile Virus Is Here!

By Corinne Rose

June 24, 2013 Updated Jun 24, 2013 at 6:11 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) -- Indiana's first human case of West Nile virus appeared in 2002. And now the Allen County Health Department is setting traps to monitor for this year's round of the disease.

"The mosquitoes that can transmit West Nile, their population is starting to increase right now," says Dave Fiess, the Allen County Health Department’s mosquito expert.

And that means more chances for you to be bitten by the disease-carrying insects even if the chances are small that you'd develop the full-blown disease.

"80% of people bitten by an infected mosquito, there won't be any symptoms at all. About 19%, there might be some symptoms of what they call West Nile fever, more of a fever type, flu type symptoms. And then there is that 1%, and again, it is more in the elderly population, where there are more severe symptoms," Fiess adds.

Those include a high fever, stiff neck, body aches and a rash.

Since 2002, 30 Hoosiers have died from West Nile, eight last year alone.

And since one mosquito can lay up to 300 eggs in a bottle cap with a quarter-inch of water, or in the tray under a flower pot, you can do your part to eliminate that breeding ground by emptying any standing water around your home.

That's especially important this season, since budget cuts mean the Allen County Health Department will not spray for adult mosquitoes this year.

"Nuisance floodwater mosquitoes are very aggressive. You know they're there. The ones that can carry disease are kind of like your silent mosquito because you don't know it until it bites you. Because they're quiet, they're not aggressive. You're sitting out on your back porch in the evening, and all of a sudden you've got a bite,” Fiess says.

If you're going to be outside, the best thing you can do to protect yourself is to wear a heavy-duty insect repellant.

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