WEST NILE: Health officials urge precautions against mosquitoes as activity increases

Staff Writer

State health officials are urging Indiana residents to take steps to protect themselves from mosquito bites amid an increase in West Nile virus activity in mosquitoes across the state.
As of July 15, one human case of West Nile virus has been confirmed in Marion County, and mosquitoes in Marion, Hamilton, Jennings and Benton counties have tested positive for West Nile virus. The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) expects to continue to see increased West Nile activity throughout the state as the mosquito season progresses.

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.

Even a container as small as a bottle cap can become a mosquito breeding ground, so residents should take the following steps to eliminate potential breeding grounds:
•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, which can include fever, headache, body aches, swollen lymph glands or a rash. Some individuals will develop a more severe form of the disease affecting the nervous system, including inflammation in the brain and spinal cord, muscle paralysis or even death. People who think they may have West Nile virus should see their healthcare provider.
To see the latest results of ISDH’s mosquito surveillance, go to https://gis.in.gov/apps/ISDH/Arbo/. To learn more about West Nile virus, visit www.StateHealth.in.gov. For important health updates, follow the Indiana State Department of Health on Twitter at @StateHealthIN and on Facebook atwww.facebook.com/isdh1.