State health officials are continuing to urge Hoosiers to take precautions to protect themselves from mosquito-borne diseases. To date, West Nile virus has been detected in mosquitoes in 31 counties across the state. In addition, mosquitoes have tested positive for Eastern equine encephalitis in Elkhart County.
“Mosquitoes in Indiana can spread several different viruses, including West Nile virus, Eastern equine encephalitis, St. Louis encephalitis, and La Crosse encephalitis,” said Jennifer House, DVM, veterinary epidemiologist at the Indiana State Department of Health. “All of these viruses have the potential to cause serious illnesses.”
“Mosquito-transmitted diseases commonly occur in August and September, when mosquitoes are more active because of hot weather conditions, so Hoosiers should take the proper precautions to prevent being bitten.”
Dr. House recommends people take the following protective steps:
- Avoid places where mosquitoes are biting.
- Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaradin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus to clothes and exposed skin; and
- Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out of the home; and
- When possible, wear pants and long sleeves, especially if walking in woody or marshy areas.
- Horse owners should have their horses vaccinated for both WNV and EEE.
Dr. House says it is also a good idea to take steps to rid properties of potential mosquito breeding grounds by:
- Discarding old tires, tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or other containers that can hold water;
- Repairing failed septic systems;
- Drilling holes in the bottom of recycling containers left outdoors;
- Keeping grass cut short and shrubbery trimmed;
- Cleaning clogged roof gutters, particularly if leaves tend to plug up the drains;
- Frequently replacing the water in pet bowls;
- Flushing ornamental fountains and birdbaths periodically; and
- Aerating ornamental pools, or stock them with predatory fish.