INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WANE) State health officials have confirmed the first signs of West Nile virus activity in Indiana for 2014. Mosquitoes in Marshall and Pike counties have tested positive for the virus. There have been no reported human cases this year.
Experts said West Nile virus has been found throughout the entire state in past years, and positive mosquitoes are expected to be found in many other Indiana counties as the summer progresses.
“It’s the time of year when we are at greater risk for West Nile virus infection,” said State Health Commissioner William VanNess, M.D. “But there are many ways people can help protect themselves and their families. You can prevent West Nile virus infection by following some simple and effective steps to prevent mosquito bites.”
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. West Nile virus is not transmitted from person to person.
Dr. VanNess recommends people take the following protective steps:
- If possible, avoid being outdoors during prime mosquito biting times, especially late afternoon and dusk to dawn and early morning;
- Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535 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.
Most people who are infected with West Nile virus will not develop any symptoms. Of those who become ill, most will develop a milder form of the illness, which can include fever, headache, body aches, swollen lymph glands or a rash. However, a small number of people can develop a more severe form of the disease with encephalitis or meningitis and other neurological syndromes. Some people 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.