Elkhart County resident dies from West Nile Virus

Elkhart, IN. - According to the Indiana Department of Health this is the first reported death from the West Nile Virus this year.

This comes just two days after the state reported this year's first confirmed case of the West Nile Virus in Jefferson County.


Health officials are not releasing any other details about the victim other than the fact that the person was middle-aged.


However, officials did say that although death is rare, people over the age of 50 have the greatest risk of becoming seriously ill or even dying from the virus.


Since 2002, when Indiana had its first human case of West Nile Virus, more than 20 Hoosiers have died from the illness, including one in 2010 and now one in 2011.


"In terms of identifying the virus commonly in mosquito pools or seeing a lot of clinical cases...that's not been the case this year," says Daniel Nafziger of the Elkhart County Health Department.


Health officials say the West Nile Virus is transmitted to people by mosquitoes that have bitten an infected bird. Ssymptoms can show up anywhere between three to 15 days after someone is bitten by an infected mosquito. Symptoms that include fever, headache, body aches, swollen lymph glands, or a rash. However, officials say those symptoms are only common children and other mild cases.


"Where as older individuals can get inflammation in the brain that can be life threatening. They can be confused, lose there ability to speak or express themselves clearly."


Last year, West Nile Virus was found in mosquitoes in 54 counties across the state and now this year the state says mosquitoes from 11 counties have now tested positive for the virus.


Health officials says the best way to avoid the virus is to avoid being bitten at altogether. "If you are out, Deet containing mosquito repellents are the most effective way to prevent mosquito bites. So, using insect repellent is a good idea."


Officials also says to protect themselves, people need to minimize pools of standing water from forming around their homes because they are ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes.

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