State health officials are urging Indiana residents to take steps to protect themselves from mosquito bites amid an increase in West Nile virus activity in mosquitoes across the state.
As of August 16, mosquitoes in 53 of Indiana’s 92 counties have tested positive for West Nile virus and two human cases have been confirmed — one in Hamilton County and one in Lake County. There have also been two confirmed cases of West Nile virus in horses in Adams County and two in LaGrange County. The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) anticipates increased West Nile activity statewide throughout mosquito season, lasting until the first hard freeze of the year around late October.
In addition to West Nile virus, a single case of California serogroup encephalitis has occurred in Ripley County. California serogroup viruses are also transmitted by mosquitoes and can cause fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, drowsiness and disorientation. Severe cases may result in seizures or coma. The most common virus in this group, La Crosse encephalitis, typically causes illness in children under 16 years of age. La Crosse encephalitis is rarely fatal, but it can result in learning disabilities even after a child has recovered. The prevention measures for California serogroup viruses are the same as those for other mosquito-borne diseases, including West Nile virus.
“Each year, we see people become ill as a result of mosquito bites,” said State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams, M.D., M.P.H. ”Finding West Nile virus in mosquitoes from more than half of Indiana’s counties means that the risk is increasing statewide. I urge all Hoosiers to take precautions against mosquito bites, which will protect against West Nile and other viruses transmitted by mosquitoes.”
State health officials recommend the following preventive measures:
Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are active (especially late afternoon, dusk to dawn and early morning);
Apply an EPA-registered insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol to clothes and exposed skin;
Cover exposed skin by wearing a hat, long sleeves and long pants in places where mosquitoes are especially active, such as wooded areas;
Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out of the home.
Even a container as small as a bottle cap can become a mosquito breeding ground, so residents should take the following steps:
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 weekly; and,
Aerate ornamental pools, or stock them with predatory fish.
West Nile 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 people will develop a more severe form of the disease affecting the nervous system, including inflammation in the brain and spinal cord, muscle paralysis or even death. People who think they may have West Nile virus should visit their healthcare provider.
>To see the latest results of ISDH’s mosquito surveillance, go to https://gis.in.gov/apps/ISDH/Arbo/. To learn more about West Nile virus, visit www.StateHealth.in.gov. For important health updates, follow the Indiana State Department of Health on Twitter at @StateHealthIN and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/isdh1.
SOURCE: News release from Indiana State Department of Health