Indiana health officials are urging Hoosiers to take steps to protect themselves from mosquito bites after the West Nile virus was detected in Indiana for the first time this year.
So far in 2021, one mosquito sample collected in Vigo County has tested positive for West Nile virus.
No human cases of West Nile virus disease have been detected so far this year; however, the Indiana Department of Health expects to see further West Nile activity throughout the state as the mosquito season progresses.
“Many of us are looking forward to summer activities that were postponed or canceled last year, but we don’t want anyone to get sick from mosquito bites,” said Kris Box, state health commissioner. “Hoosiers in all parts of the state should take precautions to prevent mosquito bites whenever they are outdoors.”
Mosquitoes can transmit a variety of diseases.
In 2019 and 2020, Indiana experienced outbreaks of another mosquito-borne disease, eastern equine encephalomyelitis. These outbreaks caused two human cases, one of which was fatal, and 18 horse cases in northern Indiana.
Although EEE virus activity has not been detected in Indiana so far this year, health officials want Hoosiers to remain cautious.
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.
Those who think they may have West Nile virus or EEE virus disease should contact their healthcare providers.
To see the latest results of the state health department’s mosquito surveillance, go to https://gis.in.gov/apps/ISDH/Arbo.
To learn more about mosquito-borne diseases, visit https://www.in.gov/isdh/27793.htm.