(BLOOMINGTON) - A Monroe County resident has been confirmed by the state health department as having the West Nile virus.
Dann Denny of the Herald Times reports that information about the person or how he or she is doing cannot be released due to federal privacy laws, said Penny Caudill, the Monroe County Health Department's administrator.
"We have not fully completed our investigation yet," Caudill said. "The case has been confirmed medically, but the other part of our investigation is the environmental side that will be followed up by our environmental health specialist. We want to be thorough, but complete the investigation as soon as possible."
State health officials have confirmed seven cases of human West Nile virus this year, including one death. In addition to Monroe County, human cases have been confirmed in Fulton, Hamilton, Jackson, Marion, and Vanderburgh counties.
West Nile virus usually causes West Nile fever, a milder form of the illness, which can include fever, headache, body aches, swollen lymph glands or a rash. Some individuals develop a more severe form of the disease with encephalitis or meningitis and other severe syndromes, including flaccid muscle paralysis.
There is no vaccine and no cure for West Nile virus, Saint Louis encephalitis or Eastern equine encephalitis for humans. Individuals who think they may have West Nile virus should see their health care provider.
State Health Commissioner Gregory Larkin said that while the mosquito-borne virus poses a danger to those spending time in wooded areas, fishing or camping, the majority of people who become infected do so while spending time outside their homes, working in the garden, mowing the lawn or sitting on the porch.
"Because this virus is carried and transmitted by mosquitoes, we are all susceptible to it," Larkin said in a prepared statement. "The tragic death we've recently experienced serves as a reminder of just how important it is to take steps to protect ourselves from mosquitoes, both indoors and outdoors."
"When you go outside, you can protect yourself by covering up and wearing insect repellent, but you can also reduce the amount of mosquitoes around your home by eliminating areas they may use for breeding grounds," he said.
The state health department said you should also avoid places where mosquitoes are biting; apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaradin or oil of lemon eucalyptus to clothes and exposed skin; and wear pants and long sleeves, especially if walking in wooded or marshy areas.
To reduce potential mosquito breeding grounds you can 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; replace the water in pet bowls; flush ornamental fountains and birdbaths periodically; and aerate ornamental pools, or stock them with predatory fish.
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