West Nile detected for the first time this year in Indiana


Staff Reports

The Indiana State Department of Health is reporting the West Nile virus has been detected for the first time this year in Indiana.

That has prompted state and local health officials to issue a warning to Hoosiers to take precautions.

Each year, the mosquito populations in Indiana are monitored and tested for their capacity to carry disease, and the general public is reminded of steps that need to be taken to lessen the chances of infestation and illness.

Recently, one mosquito sample collected in Vigo County tested positive for the virus, ISDH officials announced Tuesday. Health officials expect to see more West Nile activity across the state as the mosquito season progresses.

“Many of us are looking forward to summer activities that were postponed or canceled last year, but we don’t want anyone to get sick from mosquito bites,” State Health Commissioner Kris Box said. “Hoosiers in all parts of the state should take precautions to prevent mosquito bites whenever they are outdoors.”

Paul Ramsey, director of the environmental division at the Jackson County Health Department, said controlling the mosquito population and possible breeding grounds has to be a communitywide effort.

“If every resident could do their part to remove places where mosquitoes can breed and take precautions to prevent getting bitten by mosquitoes, then we can lessen the risk of getting mosquito-borne diseases,” he said.

Health officials are encouraging Hoosiers to take the following precautions to stay safe and healthy this summer:

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

Hoosiers also are being urged to do the following to prevent mosquito breeding grounds:

Discard old tires, tin cans, ceramic pots or other containers that can hold water and 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

The ISDH reports about 80% of people who are infected with West Nile virus will not show symptoms, and about 20% will get sick and experience a fever, headache, body aches, joint pains, diarrhea or rash.

Less than 1% of people infected with the virus will develop severe illness, and about one in 10 severe cases can be fatal, according to the ISDH.

Mosquitoes do not only transmit West Nile virus. In 2019 and 2020, outbreaks of eastern equine encephalomyelitis caused two human cases, one of those cases was fatal, the ISDH said.

If you believe you have contracted West Nile virus or EEE, contact your doctor.

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