INDIANAPOLIS—Health officials have announced the state’s first death this year due to West Nile virus. Seven cases total have been reported so far in 2012. The mosquito-borne virus isn’t just a risk for those spending time in wooded areas, fishing or camping. The majority of people who become infected do so while spending time around the outside of the home, when working in the garden, mowing the lawn or simply sitting on the porch.
“Because this virus is carried and transmitted by mosquitoes, we are all susceptible to it,” said State Health Commissioner Gregory Larkin, M.D. “The tragic death we’ve recently experienced serves as a reminder of just how important it is to take steps to protect ourselves from mosquitoes, both indoors and outdoors. When you open your windows, be sure they have screens so mosquitoes can’t get in. When you go outside, you can protect yourself by covering up and wearing insect repellent, but you can also reduce the amount of mosquitoes around your home by eliminating areas they may use for breeding grounds.”
Confirmed cases have been found in the following counties: Fulton, Hamilton, Jackson, Monroe, Marion, and Vanderburgh.
Take the following steps to protect you and your family from mosquitoes:
• 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.