Statement as issued Friday by the Indiana State Department of Health:
INDIANAPOLIS—Indiana’s first human cases of West Nile virus have been confirmed in Hamilton and Marion counties, State health officials announced today. Hoosiers are encouraged to take steps to protect themselves from West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne diseases.
In addition to the two human cases, mosquito groups in 44 counties have now tested positive for the virus. Those counties include: Adams, Allen, Bartholomew, Benton, Blackford, Boone, Clay, Daviess, DeKalb, Delaware, Dubois, Elkhart, Fayette, Hamilton, Hendricks, Henry, Huntington, Jefferson, Jennings, Johnson, Knox, Lake, Marion, Martin, Miami, Montgomery, Morgan, Noble, Orange, Owen, Parke, Putnam, Randolph, Ripley, Shelby, Sullivan, Tippecanoe, Tipton, Vanderburgh, Vermillion, Vigo, Wayne, Wells and Whitley.
Marion County Health Department has confirmed the virus in a crow in Marion County. The Indiana State Department of Health has collected and tested nearly 71,000 mosquitoes from 89 counties, dividing them into 961 pools for West Nile virus and Saint Louis encephalitis. There have been no positive findings for Saint Louis encephalitis to date.
“Unfortunately, these two cases tell everyone that despite the dry conditions and hot temperatures, the virus is circulating in the state and we’re susceptible to infection,” said State Health Commissioner Gregory Larkin, M.D. “Usually the virus causes only mild disease, but some people will develop more severe illness. Hoosiers should take steps to protect themselves from being bitten by mosquitoes.”
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.
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.