West Nile Virus detected in mosquitoes in Shelby County

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SHELBYVILLE, Ind. - Just days after the start of summer, the state of Indiana has its first sign of West Nile Virus. The disease showed up in a batch of mosquitoes from Shelby County.

The Indiana State Department of Health says the West Nile outlook for this year will depend on the weather in the next couple of weeks.

A sample of mosquitoes collected June 9th near Sunset Park in Shelbyville turned up positive for West Nile Virus. Christina Letsinger lives near the park.

"My grandchildren come and play here a lot. They're in the backyard, it does worry me," said Christina Letsinger.

Letsinger said West Nile nearby is a bit frightening. But the Indiana State Department of Health said people shouldn't sound the alarm just yet.

"Anytime we get a big rainfall event, we expect that it will lead to a big increase in mosquitoes, usually in a week to ten days or so," said Bryan Price, Senior Vector-Borne Epidemiologist with the Indiana State Department of Health.

Price said the first positive West Nile batch occurs about this time every year, but the rain and more nuisance-biting mosquitoes, as they're called, doesn't necessarily mean more West Nile.

"What really concerns us though as far as West Nile is concerned is if the weather conditions become hot and dry," said Price.

Scientists will be watching the weeks to come. Hot and dry weather creates perfect breeding conditions for Culex mosquitoes, the kind that carry West Nile Virus. They replicate in stagnant water, often in the heat of summer.

"When we have hot and dry conditions, that leads to more stagnant water sitting around, and that leads to more of those mosquitoes," said Price.

The Shelby County Health Department will treat the area around the park as a result of the positive test. Christina Letsinger said she'll do her part, too, making sure the water her grandchildren play in gets dumped out often.

"I have a pool in the backyard, and I change it about everyday," she said.

Price said it's best to go over your property since there's been so much rain to see where water may be collecting. You're advised to dump out and turn over any containers where water can stand.

As far as protecting yourself, experts recommend wearing repellent with Deet and making sure you are covered at dawn and dusk.

So far this season, there's been no report of any human cases of West Nile Virus. You can track mosquitoes tested and recorded by the ISDH by following this link.

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