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Mosquitoes carrying West Nile Virus found in St. Joseph County

A female <em>Anopheles gambiae </em>mosquito feeds on human blood through a mosquito net.
A female Anopheles gambiae mosquito feeds on human blood through a mosquito net.

The St. Joseph County Department of Health says it has identified West Nile Virus in mosquitoes found in northeastern Mishawaka, but that no human infections have currently been found among county residents.

In a press release, the department says there’s been a recent increase in West Nile Virus activity, and it’s expected the virus will be found more and more in Michiana through the rest of the summer until the first hard frost.

To avoid exposure, the department recommends:

  • Avoid being outdoors during prime mosquito biting times — dusk to dawn — when possible.
  • 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.
  • Treat clothing and outdoor gear with 0.5% permethrin if camping or spending extended periods of time outdoors.
  • Make sure all windows and doors have screens, and that all screens are in good repair.

To reduce mosquito breeding areas, the department recommends

  • Get rid of old tires, tin cans, or other containers that can hold water. Even a small bucket that has stagnant water in it for seven days can become home to up to 1,000 mosquitoes.
  • Tip bird baths, pet bowls, flowerpots, and other water-holding containers weekly and refill with clean water.
  • Repair failed septic systems.
  • Keep rain barrels covered with wire mesh smaller than adult mosquitoes.
  • Keep grass cut short and shrubbery trimmed.
  • Clean roof gutters (roof gutters are easily overlooked but can produce millions of mosquitoes each season).
  • Flush ornamental fountains weekly and aerate ornamental pools or stock them with top-feeding minnows.
  • Keep swimming pools cleaned and chlorinated.
  • Drain and fill stagnant pools, puddles, ditches, or swampy places around the home and property.

The department says St. Joseph County is one of nine Indiana counties where the virus has been detected this year.

Contact Jakob at jlazzaro@wvpe.org or follow him on Twitter at @JakobLazzaro.

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Jakob Lazzaro comes to Indiana from Chicago, where he graduated from Northwestern University in 2020 with a degree in Journalism and a double major in History. Before joining WVPE, he wrote NPR's Source of the Week e-mail newsletter, and previously worked for CalMatters, Pittsburgh's 90.5 WESA and North by Northwestern.