Indiana is reporting its first death this year from West Nile virus, the Indiana Department of Health confirmed this afternoon after a Tribune-Star inquiry.
“I cannot provide the county residency of the person who died due to privacy laws,” said Amanda Turney, state department of health spokeswoman. “I cannot release any details about when the case occurred as it would be identifying.”
The Vigo County Health Department has investigated one human case of West Nile virus, said Joni Wise, administrator.
She could not reveal the outcome of that case due to privacy laws, Wise said.
As of today, the state was reporting 20 documented human West Nile cases in Indiana: Allen, Clark, Bartholomew, Elkhart, Floyd, Hamilton, Lake, Ripley, Scott and Vigo, all with 1 case; Kosciusko and Marion, 2 cases each; and Porter and Vanderburgh, each with 3 cases.
The age range of patients has been from 16 to 85.
While people of all ages can be and have been infected with the virus, health officials report those individuals age 50 and over, or those with weakened immune systems, are at greatest risk for serious illness and even death from West Nile virus.
West Nile is deemed a reportable disease by the Indiana State Department of Health, so the entity that diagnosed it (hospital, emergency room, private doctor, lab) is required to report the disease to health officials, Wise said.
There is no legal requirement to report a human case of West Nile virus to the public, Wise said. “If something arises from any given disease (H1N1, chicken pox, WNV, flu), we have always tried to make sure the public has the information needed to make an informed choice and best understand the situation,” she stated in an email.