The first human case of West Nile virus in Indiana has been reported in Ripley County, Indiana State Department of Health officials announced July 24. Hoosiers are encouraged to take steps to protect themselves from the virus and other mosquito-borne diseases.
In addition to the human case, mosquito groups in nine counties have now tested positive for the virus. Those counties include Adams, Allen, Clinton, Grant, Hamilton, Jefferson, Starke, Vanderburgh and Vigo. ISDH workers have collected and tested nearly 64,000 mosquitoes from 85 counties for West Nile virus and St. Louis encephalitis. There have been no positive findings for that encephalitis strain at this time.
“It is the time of the year when Hoosiers are at risk of getting West Nile virus and should take precautions against getting bitten by mosquitoes,” said Jennifer House, ISDH director of zoonotic and veterinary epidemiology. “Last year there were 77 cases in Indiana.”
State health officials recommend these preventative measures:
• Avoid places where mosquitoes are biting;
• Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaradin 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;
• When possible, wear pants and long sleeves, especially if walking in wooded or marshy areas.
The 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.
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;
• Aerate ornamental pools or stock them with predatory fish.
Individuals who think they may have West Nile virus should see their health care providers.
For more information about mosquito safety, persons may visit the ISDH Web site at www.StateHealth.IN.gov or the department on Twitter at @StateHealthIN and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/isdh1.