INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Hamilton and Lake counties have recorded the first human cases of West Nile virus for the year, state health officials said Friday.
They urged Hoosiers to take steps to protect themselves from mosquito bites. The insects spread the virus to humans. The first two cases were recorded Wednesday.
“Unfortunately, West Nile disease is a common occurrence in Indiana during mosquito season,” said Dr. Jerome Adams, Indiana’s health commissioner, in a news release. “When we find evidence of the virus in multiple counties, that means the risk is starting to increase statewide. Protecting yourself from mosquito bites and eliminating breeding grounds are the best ways to prevent mosquito-borne illnesses.”
State health officials recommend the following preventive measures:
- Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are active (especially late afternoon, dusk to dawn and early morning).
- Apply an Environmental Protection Agency-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.
Mosquitoes breed in standing water. Even a container as small as a bottle cap can become a breeding ground, so residents should take the following steps:
- 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.
- Aerate ornamental pools, or stock them with predatory fish.
West Nile virus can cause West Nile fever, a mild form of the illness, which can include fever, headache, body aches, swollen lymph glands or a rash, the release said. Some people will develop a more severe form of the disease affecting the nervous system, including inflammation in the brain and spinal cord, muscle paralysis or death. People who think they may have West Nile virus should see a healthcare provider.