Health

State Records Its 1st West Nile Virus Death of Year

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October 18, 2013 — Indiana health officials have announced the state’s first death this year due to West Nile virus, and it says the victim was a Vigo County resident.

Indiana’s State Department of Health says 20 human cases have been reported and mosquito samples in 87 counties have tested positive for West Nile virus, compared to 2012 when 77 human cases and eight deaths occurred in Indiana.

ISDH Director of Zoonotic and Environmental Epidemiology Jennifer House, DVM, says, “Although we’re past the normal peak season for West Nile virus, which was in August and September, there’s still a risk of becoming infected on warmer days when mosquitoes are biting, so Hoosiers should continue to take precautions.”

The health department says mosquitoes are not typically active below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, thought there is a risk of being bitten and becoming infected with West Nile virus until a hard freeze at approximately 30 degrees Fahrenheit.

It offers the following steps to help protect from West Nile virus:

  • 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;
  • Avoid places where mosquitoes are biting; and,
  • When possible, wear pants and long sleeves, especially if walking in wooded or marshy areas.

ISDH says, “West Nile virus usually causes West Nile fever, a milder 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.”

People who think they have West Nile virus should seek health care, as there is no vaccine and no cure for West Nile virus.

The health department invites Hoosiers interested in historical data about West Nile virus activity in Indiana to visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at http://www.cdc.gov/westnile/statsMaps/finalMapsData/index.html

Or get more information about mosquito safety at the Indiana State Department of Health at www.StateHealth.IN.gov.

 

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