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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Three confirmed instances of the West Nile Virus in mosquitos have been discovered in southern Indiana, and health experts say they don't see the problem going away.
Clark County Health Department officials say the West Nile Virus has been around more than a decade, and is likely not going anywhere. They're advising people to be alert and take precautions. They say three mosquito pool tests came back positive. The test sites were in Jeffersonville at the North Corridor Of Hamburg Pike and the central portion of 10th Street downtown. The area of concern in Sellersburg is a three-mile radius of the intersection of South Indiana Avenue and Lakeside Drive.
"That was a little abnormal," said Environmental Health Specialist Doug Bentfield of the Clark County Health Department. "We haven't had that happen in the county before."
According to statistics from the Center for Disease Control, in just over the past decade, there have been four times as many cases of West Nile confirmed in Indiana than in Kentucky. Clark County Health Department officials advise the public to take precautions when they are outside trying to enjoy the summer.
"We feel like we are going to have West Nile here in Clark County from here on out," Bentfield said.
Bentfield warned residents to protect themselves, especially on their own property.
"On private property you are going to see things like pools that are no longer functional, gutters that need to be cleaned out or someone happens to have some old tires sitting back there, that's one of the worst sites for mosquitoes," Bentfield said.
He said the bloodsuckers need water to complete their life cycle and standing water is where the risk is the deepest, though the area could be very shallow.
"Anything that has water in it for four days can have a mosquito lay an egg in it and hatch during that time," said Bentfield. Officials recommend wearing long sleeves and pants, but since it's hot, it's also important to wear DEET to protect your skin. Bentfield recommended minimizing activities during dusk and dawn.
According to information from the CDC, the disease is commonly carried in birds of prey and has been detected in other animals, but horses have most commonly contracted the disease. Experts say vaccination is the best defense for the animals, though they cannot spread the virus to humans. Health officials say a person has to be bitten by an infected mosquito to get sick. Elderly people and children are most susceptible to catching the potentially deadly disease.
"It can make you very ill," said Bentfield. "It causes fever headaches, dizziness, chills and eventually could lead to death in some situations."
According to the CDC, only 4 percent of the some 37,000 cases across the nation since 2002 have resulted in death.
Officials will fog and attempt to get rid of eggs and larva within the county to take care of the problem as best they can. They say it only takes one bite, and you have to be bitten by an infected mosquito to get the virus.