State Records 2013’s First Indiana West Nile Case
June 21, 2013 — The Indiana State Department of Health says it has its first signs of confirmed West Nile virus in Indiana for this year. It says Adams County mosquitoes tested positive for the virus last week, “earlier than normal for the state; which typically holds off until mid-summer.”
The health department reminds that West Nile virus is commonly found across Indiana during summer, expecting an increase in activity in more counties as summer progresses. It says that West Nile virus occurred in mosquitoes in every county except Crawford County last year.
Indiana State Department of Health Director of Zoonotic and Environmental Epidemiology Jennifer House says, “With this earlier than usual discovery of West Nile virus activity, Hoosiers are now at a greater risk of West Nile virus, but there are many ways people can help protect themselves and their families. By following several simple, effective and important steps, they can help reduce not only mosquitoes, but mosquito bites.”
West Nile virus transmits to people from mosquitoes that have bitten an infected bird. The Department of Health says a person bitten by an infected mosquito could show symptoms three-to-15 days after the bite.
Dr. House recommends people take the following protective steps:
•If possible, avoid being outdoors during prime mosquito biting times from dusk to dawn;
•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; and
•When possible, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants while outside.
The State’s health department says it is impossible to predict the scale of this year’s West Nile virus season, which is influenced by temperatures and rainfall.
House says, “Mosquitoes begin activity around the spring. Besides West Nile virus, mosquitoes can spread several different diseases including St. Louis Encephalitis and La Crosse Encephalitis. Usually, mosquito transmitted diseases occur during the summer months and don’t show signs of waning until the first hard frost of the season.”
The Health Department advises:
“West Nile virus usually causes a mild form of the illness, which can include fever, headache, body aches, swollen lymph glands or a rash. However, a small number of individuals can develop a more severe form of the disease with encephalitis or meningitis and other neurological syndromes, including flaccid muscle paralysis. Some individuals may die from the infection. Health officials say that although individuals over age 50 are at greatest risk for serious illness and even death from West Nile virus, people of all ages have been infected with the virus and have had severe disease. More than 30 Hoosiers have died from the illness, including eight in 2012, since Indiana had its first human case of West Nile virus in 2002.”
State health officials also recommend Hoosiers take the following 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.