The first human case of West Nile virus infection in Indiana has been reported in Huntington County, State health officials announced Tuesday. Hoosiers are encouraged to take steps to protect themselves from West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne diseases.
In addition, mosquitoes in 27 counties have tested positive for the virus so far in 2015. Those counties include: Allen, Blackford, Boone, Clark, Clinton, Crawford, Delaware, Dubois, Elkhart, Floyd, Fulton, Hamilton, Hancock, Hendricks, Marion, Marshall, Miami, Montgomery, Morgan, Orange, Perry, Ripley, Shelby, Vanderburgh, Vigo, Wabash and Wells. However, West Nile virus may be circulating in all 92 Indiana counties and Hoosiers should take precautions to prevent mosquito bites.
“Unfortunately, this is the time of the year when West Nile virus infection is on the rise and Hoosiers are at a greater risk of getting West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne viruses,” said State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams, M.D., M.P.H. “The good news though is that you can prevent these diseases by taking precautions like using insect repellent and wearing pants and long sleeves if you’re walking in any wooded or marshy areas.”
State health officials recommend the following preventative measures:
- Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are active (late afternoon and dusk to dawn and early morning);
- Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol to clothes and exposed skin;
- Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out of the home.
West Nile virus can cause West Nile fever, a mild form of the illness, which can include fever, headache, body aches, swollen lymph glands or a rash. Some individuals will develop a more severe form of the disease with encephalitis or meningitis and other severe syndromes, including flaccid muscle paralysis or even death.
To reduce potential mosquito breeding grounds:
- Discard old tires, tin cans, ceramic pots or other containers that can hold water;
- Repair failed septic systems;
- Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers left outdoors;
- Keep grass cut short and shrubbery trimmed;
- Clean clogged roof gutters, particularly if leaves tend to plug up the drains;
- Frequently replace the water in pet bowls;
- Flush ornamental fountains and birdbaths periodically; and,
- Aerate ornamental pools, or stock them with predatory fish.
People who think they may have West Nile virus should see their healthcare provider.
To learn more about West Nile virus, visit www.StateHealth.in.gov. For important health updates, follow the Indiana State Department of Health on Twitter at @StateHealthIN and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/isdh1.