INDIANAPOLIS — Last week, state health officials announced the state’s first death this year due to West Nile virus. Officials said the person who died was from Vigo County.
Twenty human cases have been reported and mosquito samples in 87 counties have tested positive for West Nile virus. In 2012, 77 human cases and eight deaths occurred in Indiana.
“Although we’re past the normal peak season for West Nile virus, which was in August and September,” Jennifer House, DVM, director of Zoonotic and Environmental Epidemiology at the Indiana State Department of Health, said in a press release. “There’s still a risk of becoming infected on warmer days when mosquitoes are biting, so Hoosiers should continue to take precautions.”
Mosquitoes are typically not very active below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, however until there is a hard freeze (about 30 degrees Fahrenheit), there’s still a risk of being bitten and becoming infected with West Nile virus.
The following steps are recommended to help protect from West Nile virus:
• Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaradin, 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;
• Avoid places where mosquitoes are biting; and
• When possible, wear pants and long sleeves, especially if walking in wooded or marshy areas.
West Nile virus usually causes West Nile fever, a milder 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 with encephalitis or meningitis and other severe syndromes, including flaccid muscle paralysis.
Individuals who think they may have West Nile virus should see a health care provider.
There is no vaccine and no cure for West Nile virus, Saint Louis encephalitis or Eastern equine encephalitis for humans.
No mosquito samples have tested positive for St. Louis encephalitis or Eastern Equine Encephalomyelitis in 2013.
For historical data on West Nile virus activity in Indiana, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.cdc.gov/westnile/statsMaps/finalMapsData/index.html.
For more information about mosquito safety, visit the Indiana State Department of Health website at www.StateHealth.IN.gov.