State health officials confirmed the first signs of West Nile virus activity in Indiana for 2014. Mosquitoes in Marshall and Pike counties have tested positive for the virus. There have been no reported cases of West Nile virus in humans in the state this year, according to an Indiana State Department of Health news release.
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 is impossible to predict the severity of this year’s West Nile virus season as future temperatures and rainfall determine the level of mosquito populations.
“It’s the time of year when we are at greater risk for West Nile virus infection, but there are many ways people can help protect themselves and their families,” said Dr. William VanNess, Indiana state health commissioner. “You can prevent West Nile virus infection by following some simple and effective steps to prevent mosquito bites.”
He recommends people take these 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 the 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. Some people may die from the infection.