HANCOCK COUNTY, Ind. — The West Nile virus was detected in a mosquito pool in Fortville, the Hancock County Health Department announced Friday.

It is the first time the virus has been detected in Hancock County this year, noted HCHD. No human cases have been reported at this time.

The county and state health departments expect to see more West Nile virus activity as the mosquito season progresses.

HCHD noted that even a container as small as a bottle cap can become a mosquito breeding site. The health department recommends the following steps to prevent mosquito breeding:

  • Discard old tires, tin cans, ceramic pots or other containers that can hold stagnant water.
  • Repair failed septic systems.
  • Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers left outdoors.
  • Clean clogged roof gutters, particularly if leaves tend to plug up the drains.
  • Keep grass cut short and shrubbery trimmed.
  • Flush ornamental fountains and birdbaths periodically.
  • Aerate ornamental pools, or stock them with predatory fish.
  • Frequently replace the water in pet bowls.
  • Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out of the home.

West Nile is solely a mosquito-borne illness, meaning that is only transmitted by mosquitoes and will not spread from human to human, explained the health department. There is currently no treatment. The best practice to prevent West Nile virus is to avoid mosquito bites altogether.

HCHD recommends the following measures to prevent mosquito-borne diseases when spending time outside:

  • Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are active, especially late afternoon, dusk to dawn and early morning.
  • Apply an EPA-registered insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol to clothes and exposed skin.
  • Cover exposed skin by wearing a hat, long sleeves and long pants in places where mosquitoes are especially active, such as wooded areas.

West Nile Symptoms

The health department explained that about one in four people infected with West Nile become ill, with symptoms lasting three to 10 days. Symptoms include fever, headache, myalgia and loss of appetite.

About one in 230 people will experience severe symptoms, typically in the form of meningitis or encephalitis. People older than 60 years and those with underlying health conditions are at higher risk of developing severe disease. Anyone who believes they may have West Nile virus should contact their healthcare provider.