FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) — More than a dozen Indiana counties have now found mosquitoes carrying West Nile Virus.
David Fiess with the Allen County Department of Health says he’s all too familiar with these pests.
"West Nile Virus has become endemic here in Allen County, and what that means is it’s always going to be here every summer," Fiess said.
Allen and Steuben County are two of the 17 Hoosier counties to report mosquitoes with West Nile.
Neither have had a human case, but Department of Health workers in both counties are trapping bugs to send off for testing and working to reduce mosquito breeding grounds.
"It’s a very small amount of mosquitoes out there that are carrying the virus, but it’s kind of like a needle in the haystack trying to find that one mosquito that might be carrying that virus," Fiess said.
Fiess says it’s much harder to catch mosquitoes while they’re airborne, so the county is monitoring small areas of standing water where mosquitoes can lay their eggs.
He says it takes less than a quarter of an inch of standing water for mosquitoes to breed. That’s about the depth of a bottle cap.
Fiess says only about 19 percent of people infected develop symptoms like West Nile Fever.
Roughly one percent of those could face more life-threatening symptoms.
But there are ways to better protect yourself.
Steuben County’s Alicia Walsh recommends wearing insect repellent and long sleeves during dawn and dusk and avoiding standing water in places where mosquitoes may breed.
Fiess says the drier conditions over the past few weeks means fewer mosquitoes will be out and visible, but that doesn’t mean they should be ignored.
"They’re not as aggressive, so you’re going to be sitting there on the porch, and that mosquito, it’s silent, it comes up and bites you, and then you have that possibility of getting West Nile Virus. So no matter time of day, bug repellant should still be worn until that first or second hard frost," Fiess said.
Health officials suggest you reach out to your healthcare provider if you start feeling ill 3 to 15 days after a bite.
Fiess also suggests regularly cleaning out potential breeding grounds you may have in your backyard, including gutters, bird baths, and pools.