Mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus have been discovered at a testing site in Talent, according to the Jackson County Health Department.

Mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus have been discovered at a testing site in Talent, according to the Jackson County Health Department.

A test by the veterinary diagnostic laboratory at Oregon State University confirmed the virus was present in the mosquitoes, said Belle Shepherd, the county's public health division manager.

Spread by mosquitoes, West Nile virus can cause mild flu-like symptoms in about 20 percent of the people infected but may have more serious consequences for the elderly and others with existing health problems, officials said.

As a result of the discovery, Jackson County Vector Control will concentrate its mosquito abatement in the Talent area along Bear Creek, Shepherd said. The infected mosquitoes were found in that area, marking the first time this year any carrying the virus were found locally.

While mosquitoes with West Nile virus have been found locally in recent years, the virus hasn't been found in a human in Jackson County since 2005, she said.

About 80 percent of people infected with West Nile virus exhibit no symptoms, she said.

Of the remaining 20 percent, most have very mild symptoms, such as fever, headaches and nausea lasting from three to six days, she reported.

In some cases more severe symptoms can occur, including convulsions or disorientation. People with symptoms of West Nile virus should consult a health care provider.

Shepherd urged local residents to take precautions to avoid infection.

"The risk of contracting West Nile disease may be low, but we do encourage people to take appropriate precautions to protect themselves against mosquito bites," she said.

Those precautions include:

Eliminate standing water that can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes, including stagnant swimming pools, watering troughs, bird baths, clogged gutters and old tires. Use mosquito repellent when engaged in outdoor activities at dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active. Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants in mosquito-infested areas. Make sure screen doors and windows in your home are in good repair and fit tightly.

For information about the virus, check out www.mailtribune.com/westnile.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Paul Fattig at 541-776-4496 or email him at pfattig@mailtribune.com.