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Health officials ask residents to take precautions against West Nile Virus

The first cases of the West Nile Virus this year have been reported to the Indiana State Department of Health. The state urges residents to take precautions to prevent mosquito bites.

Two cases of West Nile Virus have been reported so far this year, one each in Hamilton and Lake counties.

Mosquitoes in Morgan and Tippecanoe counties have tested positive for West Nile Virus.

“Unfortunately, West Nile disease is a common occurrence in Indiana during mosquito season,” said State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams, M.D., M.P.H. “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 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.

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. 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.

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