The Indiana State Health Department announced Wednesday that at least one mosquito from a sample collected in Boone County has tested positive for the West Nile Virus.
West Nile virus is commonly found throughout the state each summer, including Boone County, says Cindy Murphy, Boone County Health Department administrator.
“Typically, we see it and expect to see West Nile activity every year, but it’s always good to get confirmation that it is here so we can alert residents and remind them to take precaution,” she said. “It could be anywhere, which is the message we want to give. We don’t want anyone to feel like it’s not in their area and not take necessary precautions.”
Murphy said as part of surveillance, each county sends pools of mosquites collected in various parts of the county, which is then sent to the Indiana State Department of Health. The state department then runs tests to detect the virus in each mosquite population. An exact location of where the infected mosquito was found is unknown, Murphy said.
Jennifer House, veterinary epidemiologist at the Indiana State Department of Health, says now that the virus has been detected, people are at a greater risk for infection.
“Fortunately, there are several simple, effective steps Hoosiers can take to protect themselves from mosquito bites,” she said.
Dr. House recommends people take the following protective steps:
n Avoid being outdoors during prime mosquito biting times, dusk to dawn, when possible;
n Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaradin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus to clothes and exposed skin;
n Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out of the home; and,
n When possible, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants when 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. Some individuals may die from the infection. Health officials say that although individuals over age 50 are at greatest risk for serious illness and even death from West Nile virus, people of all ages have been infected with the virus and have had severe disease.
“People need to take precautions and pay close attention to those symptoms and contact their physician if they have symptoms and want additional information,” Murphy said.
West Nile virus is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes that have first bitten an infected bird. A person bitten by an infected mosquito may show symptoms three to 15 days after the bite. Since 2002, when Indiana had its first human case of West Nile virus, more than 20 Hoosiers have died from the illness, including one in 2010.
The Indiana State Department of Health has reported that other counties including Bartholomew, Benton, Clay, Daviess, Fayette, Hamilton, Henry, Jennings, Johnson, Lake, Marion, Miami, Noble, Orange, Putnam, Randolph, Ripley, Tipton, Vanderburgh, and Wayne counties have now had mosquitoes test positive for West Nile virus this summer.
Dr. House is also asking Hoosiers to take steps to rid their properties of potential mosquito breeding grounds by:
n Discarding old tires, tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or other containers that can hold water;
n Repair failed septic systems;
n Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers left outdoors;
n Keep grass cut short and shrubbery trimmed;
n Clean clogged roof gutters, particularly if leaves tend to plug up the drains;
n Frequently replace the water in pet bowls;
n Flush ornamental fountains and birdbaths periodically; and,
n Aerate ornamental pools, or stock them with predatory fish.
Visit www.statehealth.IN.gov for more information.