The Jefferson County Health Department confirmed Thursday that an area in downtown Madison has tested positive for West Nile virus.

Health Administrator Tammy Monroe said the department recently sent mosquito samples from three areas in the county - Chelsea, downtown Madison and the hilltop. Those samples were tested at state labs and results showed mosquitoes taken from the Madison Wastewater Treatment Facility carried the virus.

Monroe said Jefferson County joins eight other Indiana counties as having confirmed areas with West Nile this year.

But that number is likely to grow. Last year, West Nile was found in mosquitoes in every county except Crawford County.

While the virus has been detected in Jefferson County, there have been no local confirmed human cases this year - or last year. In 2011, the county confirmed its first-ever human case of West Nile.

The West Nile virus can bring a fever, headache, body aches, swollen lymph glands or a rash. Some individuals can develop a more severe form of the disease with encephalitis or meningitis and other neurological syndromes. A few may die from the infection.

Monroe said the discovery of the virus could be linked to recent heavy rainfall that has oversaturated the ground and created pooling water.

"It creates a mosquito breeding haven," she said.

The department plans to continue sending pools of mosquitos trapped throughout the county to state labs for testing.

In addition, the department will use a mosquito fog at the fairground every night for the duration of the fair. The fog is not harmful to people, and Monroe said the department only uses it for public events and not at private residences.

Medical experts offer these tips to protect yourself from mosquitos:

• Use an insect repellent containing DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide).

• Wear shoes, socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt when outdoors for long periods of time, or from dusk to dawn, when mosquitoes are most active. Clothing should be light colored and made of tightly woven materials to keep mosquitoes away from the skin.

• Make sure all windows and doors have screens, and that all screens are in good repair.

• Use mosquito netting when sleeping outdoors or in an unscreened structure.

• Eliminate areas of standing water that could led to mosquito breeding areas.

• Repair failed septic systems.

• Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers that are left out of doors. Drainage holes that are located on the container sides collect enough water for mosquitoes to breed in.

• Keep grass cut short and shrubbery trimmed.

• Dispose of old tires, tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or other unused containers that can hold water. Do not overlook containers that have become overgrown by aquatic vegetation.