FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) A virus spread by mosquitoes in the Caribbean has gotten attention recently after an Allen County resident who traveled there was diagnosed as the first person in Indiana to come down with the disease.
Because of that, the Fort Wayne – Allen County Department of Health is reminding people that just because the chikungunya virus isn’t common in the US, there are still a variety of diseases spread by mosquitoes.
They can carry West Nile virus along with St. Louis and Lacrosse encephalitis. People infected with these diseases can suffer headache, fever, dizziness, fatigue and get a rash.
Most people will recover fairly quickly, but people over the age of 50 or who have compromised immune systems could come down with severe illness that results in a coma or even death.
The health department will begin trapping and testing mosquitoes in July throughout Allen County as part of its mosquito control program.
For several years, the department would spray for mosquitoes once West Nile was detected, however that practice has stopped and the focus is now on prevention.
“If you are going to be outdoors, cover up with long pants and long sleeves and apply an insect repellent with DEET to your clothing and exposed skin,” says Dave Fiess, director of Vector Control & Environmental Services. “Nothing is more effective at warding off mosquitoes than wearing repellent.”
That holds true no matter what time of day people are outside because mosquitoes can be out at all hours.
The health department offers these tips to limit your chances of getting bit:
- Check your property for breeding sites. Eliminate any sources of standing water. Clean out gutters and birdbaths. Properly dispose of tires. Maintain swimming pools and hot tubs. Make sure septic tanks, rain barrels and garbage cans are covered.
- Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out of the home.
- Limit time spent outdoors during peak mosquito biting times.
- When possible, wear loose, light-colored clothing, long-sleeved shirts and pants.
- Apply an insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535.