Special to the Tribune-Star
FORT WAYNE —
State health officials have confirmed the first signs of the West Nile virus activity in Indiana. Mosquitoes in Adams County near Fort Wayne tested positive for West Nile virus last week. The detection of West Nile virus is earlier than normal for the state; which typically holds off until mid-summer. West Nile virus is commonly found throughout the state in the summer and there will likely be an increase in activity in additional counties as the season progresses. Last year, West Nile virus was found in mosquitoes in every county except Crawford County. It is impossible to predict the severity of this year’s West Nile virus season as future temperatures and rainfall determine that.
“With this earlier than usual discovery of West Nile virus activity, Hoosiers are now at a greater risk of West Nile virus,” said Jennifer House, director of Zoonotic and Environmental Epidemiology at the Indiana State Department of Health. “But there are many ways people can help protect themselves and their families. By following several simple, effective and important steps, they can help reduce not only mosquitoes, but mosquito bites.”
House recommends people take the following protective steps:
• If possible, avoid being outdoors during prime mosquito biting times from dusk to dawn;
• 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; and
• When possible, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants while outside.
West Nile virus usually causes a mild form of the illness, which can include fever, headache, body aches, swollen lymph glands or a rash. However, a small number of individuals can develop a more severe form of the disease with encephalitis or meningitis and other neurological syndromes, including flaccid muscle paralysis.
For more information, visit www.StateHealth.in.gov or follow the Indiana State Department of Health on Twitter at @StateHealthIN and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/isdh1.