(ORANGE COUNTY) - Indiana State Health officials have confirmed the first signs of the West Nile virus in Orange County.
The first mosquitoes that tested positive were found in Orange County.
Officials said the positive findings are earlier this year compared to the usual findings in mid-July.
The West Nile virus season is dependent upon the temperature and rainfall, making it impossible to predict the severity of the disease, the State Health release stated.
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, according to State Health officials.
West Nile virus usually causes a mild form of the illness, which can include fever, headache, body aches, swollen lymph glands, or a rash.
Dr. Jennifer House, director of Zoonotic & Environmental Epidemiology at the Indiana State Department of Health recommends people take the following precautions:
- Avoid being outdoors during prime mosquito biting times from dusk to dawn, when possible
- 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
- When possible, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants when outside
Dr. House also recommends getting rid of items that are potential mosquito breeding grounds including old tires, tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or other containers that can hold water.
Also, repair failed septic systems, drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers left outdoors, keep grass cut short and shrubbery trimmed, frequently replace the water in pet bowls, and flush ornamental fountains and birdbaths periodically.
Health officials say individuals over age 50 are at greatest risk for serious illness and even death, but people of all ages have been infected with the virus and have had severe disease.
Last year, West Nile virus was found in mosquitoes in 34 Indiana counties.
More than 20 Hoosiers have died from the illness, including one in 2011, since Indiana had its first human case of West Nile virus in 2002.
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