INDIANAPOLIS (WFFT) — State health officials announced Wednesday that three Indiana counties have mosquitoes that tested positive for the West Nile Virus (WNV).
The Indiana State Department of Health is warning Hoosiers to take steps to protect themselves from mosquito bites as West Nile Virus activity is detected in mosquitoes in multiple locations around the state.
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Indiana state health officials recommend the following preventive measures:
- Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are active
- Eespecially 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.
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Officials said as of Aug. 6, mosquitoes in Allen, Marion and St. Joseph counties have tested positive for the virus.
ISDH says No human cases of West Nile Virus disease have been detected in 2020 but, the department expects to see increased West Nile activity throughout the state as the mosquito season continues.
In 2019, Indiana experienced an outbreak of another mosquito-borne disease, eastern equine encephalomyelitis (EEE).
This outbreak caused one fatal human case, 14 horse cases and one positive mosquito sample in Northern Indiana.
Although there has been no EEE virus activity in Indiana so far this year, health officials say Hoosiers need to remain cautious.
“While spending time outside can reduce your risk for COVID-19, it can increase your risk for mosquito-borne diseases,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box. “Hoosiers in all parts of the state should take precautions to prevent mosquito bites whenever they are outdoors.”
Box says even a container as small as a bottle cap can become a mosquito breeding ground.
She says Hoosiers should take the following steps to eliminate potential breeding grounds:
- Get rid of 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
- Aerate ornamental pools or stock them with predatory fish
The West Nile Virus can cause West Nile fever, a mild form of the illness, which can include fever, headache, body aches, swollen lymph nodes or a rash.
Some people develop a more severe form of the disease affecting the nervous system, including inflammation in the brain and spinal cord, muscle paralysis or even death.
While rare, EEE virus can cause serious illness and has a fatality rate of around 33% in humans.
ISDH says many people who recover from EEE experience serious and permanent complications.
Symptoms of EEE include chills, fever, body aches and joint pain.
Some people develop a more severe form of the disease affecting the nervous system, causing brain inflammation.
People who think they may have WNV or EEE virus should contact their healthcare provider.
You can see the latest results of ISDH’s mosquito surveillance here.
To learn more about mosquito-borne diseases, you can visit the ISDH website.