State health officials are asking Indiana residents to protect themselves from mosquito bites after lake county identified the first West Nile virus case of 2021.
On Friday, 83 mosquito pools were positive for the West Nile virus detected in Allen, Clark, Daviess, Elkhart, Floyd, Gibson, Hamilton, Jennings, Lake, Marion, Martin, Pike, Scott, Steuben, St. Joseph, Vanderburgh, and Vigo counties.
State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said that Mosquitoes are still active in cooler fall weather. All Hoosiers should take precautions against mosquito-borne diseases until the first hard freeze.
According to the Indiana Department of Health, additional West Nile virus activity is expected as the mosquito season progresses.
Citizens across the state are now being encouraged to take proper precautions to reduce their risk of illness.
State health officials recommend the following measures to prevent mosquito-borne diseases:
- Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are active (especially 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.
Even a container as small as a bottle cap can become a mosquito breeding site, so citizens should take the following steps to eliminate potential breeding sites:
- 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.
West Nile virus can cause West Nile fever, a mild form of the illness, including fever, headache, body aches, swollen lymph glands, or a rash. Some people will develop a more severe disease affecting the nervous system, including inflammation in the brain and spinal cord, muscle paralysis, or even death. People older than 60 years are at higher risk of severe West Nile virus disease. People who think they may have West Nile virus should see their healthcare providers.
State officials said that citizens of northern Indiana should also be aware of the ongoing increased risk for Eastern equine encephalitis (triple-E) virus, which caused regional outbreaks in the United States in 2019 and 2020.
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