INDIANAPOLIS (WTHI) – The first signs of West Nile virus in Indiana for 2014 have been confirmed by state health officials.
Marshall and Pike counties have had positive tests for West Nile virus.
But, there have been no reported cases of West Nile virus in humans in the state this year.
West Nile virus has been found throughout the entire state in past years, and positive mosquitoes are expected to be found in many other Indiana counties as the summer progresses.
“It’s the time of year when we are at greater risk for West Nile virus infection,” said State Health Commissioner William VanNess, M.D. “But there are many ways people can help protect themselves and their families. You can prevent West Nile virus infection by following some simple and effective steps to prevent mosquito bites.”
Dr. VanNess recommends people take the following protective steps:
• If possible, avoid being outdoors during prime mosquito biting times, especially late afternoon and dusk to dawn and early morning;
• Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus to clothes and exposed skin;
• Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out of the home; and,
• When possible, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants while outside.
Most people who are infected with West Nile virus will not develop any symptoms.
Of those who become ill, most will develop a milder form of the illness, which can include fever, headache, body aches, swollen lymph glands or a rash. However, a small number of people can develop a more severe form of the disease with encephalitis or meningitis and other neurological syndromes, including flaccid muscle paralysis.
“Mosquitoes can spread several other diseases, including St. Louis Encephalitis and La Crosse Encephalitis,” said Dr. VanNess. “Usually, mosquito transmitted diseases occur during the summer months and don’t show signs of waning until the first hard frost of the season.”
Dr. VanNess is also asking Hoosiers to take steps to rid their properties of potential mosquito breeding grounds:
• Discard old tires, tin cans, plastic containers, 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.