The first signs of West Nile virus have been confirmed in Indiana by state health officials.
Mosquitoes in Marshall and Pike counties have tested positive for the virus, according to a news release from the Indiana State Department of Health.
So far, there have been no reports of humans infected with West Nile.
In 2013, at least 35 counties in the state detected the virus, including Elkhart County.
Right now, it’s impossible to predict how severe the West Nile virus season could be, the release states, since mosquito populations are determined by temperature and rainfall levels.
Most people infected with West Nile virus won’t develop symptoms. Those who get sick are most likely to develop a milder form of the illness, which can include fever, headache, body aches, swollen lymph glands or a rash, the release said.
A small number of people can develop a more severe form of the disease with encephalitis, meningitis, flaccid muscle paralysis and other neurological syndromes. Some may die from the infection.
People of all ages can be infected, but people older than 50 are at the greatest risk for serious illness and death from the virus, the release says.
In the release, State Health Commissioner William VanNess recommended the following protective steps:
- If possible, avoid being outdoors during prime mosquito biting times, especially late afternoon and dusk to dawn and early morning.
- Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535 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.
- When possible, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants while outside.
To reduce potential mosquito breeding grounds, VanNess recommended the following:
- Throw away old tires, tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots and 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, especially 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.
For more information, visit the Indiana State Department of Health’s website at www.StateHealth.in.gov.