10/07/10 The Indiana State Department of Health says three additional human cases of West Nile virus have been reported in the state: one each in Lake, Marion and Morgan counties. Including these three new cases, there has been a total eight human cases of West Nile virus so far in 2010, with two each in Allen, Marion, and Porter counties, and one each in Lake and Morgan counties. Additionally, mosquito groups in 54 counties have tested positive for West Nile virus.
“Although temperatures have been cooler lately, mosquitoes are still active,” said Jennifer House, DVM, veterinary epidemiologist at the Indiana State Department of Health. “Until there is a hard freeze in your part of the state, there is still at risk of getting bitten by an infected mosquito, so people should continue to use insect repellents.”
Dr. House says the 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. However, a small number of individuals will develop a more severe form of the disease with encephalitis, meningitis, or other neurological syndromes. Although anyone can get West Nile virus, people over 50 are at greater risk for becoming seriously ill or even dying.
Dr. House urges homeowners to take the following steps:
- Installing or repairing screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out of the home;
- 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.
“We need to remind Hoosiers there is no cure for West Nile virus and no human vaccine, but it is preventable,” said Dr. House.