08/23/12 Health officials have investigated 10 human cases of West Nile virus statewide. Cases have been identified in Allen, Fulton, Hamilton, Hancock, Jackson, Monroe, Marion, Tippecanoe and Vanderburgh counties. Hoosiers are encouraged to take steps to protect themselves from West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne diseases. West Nile transmission within the mosquito population is currently much higher than in previous years. So far in 2012, mosquitoes carrying the virus have been found in 67 Indiana counties, compared with 34 counties in 2011.
“Nationally, we are being hit harder than ever before, especially in some of the southern states like Texas,” said State Health Commissioner Gregory Larkin, M.D. “Here in Indiana we are seeing more counties earlier in the year with positive mosquito pools, meaning a greater risk to Hoosiers. One of the most effective ways Hoosiers can protect themselves is to eliminate areas where mosquitoes breed. Dump wading pools, bird baths, buckets and be sure to clean your gutters and discard any debris in your yard.”
State health officials recommend:
- Avoid places where mosquitoes are biting;
- 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; and,
- When possible, wear pants and long sleeves, especially if walking in wooded or marshy areas.
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.
To reduce potential mosquito breeding grounds:
- 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 periodically; and,
- Aerate ornamental pools, or stock them with predatory fish.
There is no vaccine and no cure for West Nile virus, Saint Louis encephalitis or Eastern equine encephalitis for humans. Individuals who think they may have West Nile virus should see their healthcare provider.
For more information about mosquito safety, please visit the Indiana State Department of Health’s website at www.StateHealth.IN.gov.