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St. Joseph County at increased risk for West Nile Virus, Department of Health says

mosquito bites skin

The St. Joseph County Department of Health is warning residents that the county is currently at an increased risk for West Nile Virus, a mosquito-borne illness that can cause head and body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea and rashes.

Symptoms usually appear 2 to 14 days after a bite from an infected mosquito. Most people who get the disease recover completely, but some can have persistent fatigue and weakness.

And the St. Joseph County Department of Health says the county is at an elevated risk for West Nile Virus, despite recent cooler temperatures. In a press release, the department says trapped mosquitoes are still regularly testing positive for the virus, with 24 positive pools in the county this year so far.

In addition, Elkhart County has recorded 20 positive pools of the virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis has been detected in lower Michigan. No human cases have been reported in St. Joseph County, but a county resident did contract West Nile Virus last October.

The department says the threat of West Nile Virus will remain until the first hard freeze. It recommends the following steps to avoid exposure:

  • 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.
  • Reduce mosquito breeding on and around your property.

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.