(UNDATED) - The West Nile virus is back, and Indiana health officials want Hoosiers to be aware.
State health officials say they've confirmed the first signs of the virus earlier than normal for Indiana, which typically holds off until mid-summer.
Mosquitoes in Adams County tested positive for West Nile virus last week.
West Nile is common throughout Indiana during the summer months. Last year, West Nile virus was found in mosquitoes in every county except Crawford County.
Health officials say they won't know the severity of this year's West Nile virus season since future temperatures and rainfall determine that.
To avoid mosquito bites:
- If possible, avoid being outdoors during prime mosquito biting times from dusk to dawn
- 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 while 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. More than 30 Hoosiers have died from the illness, including eight in 2012, since Indiana had its first human case of West Nile virus in 2002.
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.
Mosquitoes can also spread St. Louis Encephalitis and La Crosse Encephalitis.
State health officials also recommend Hoosiers take the following steps to rid their properties of potential mosquito breeding grounds:
- Discard old tires, cans, plastic containers, 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, particularly if leaves tend to plug up the drains
- Frequently replace the water in pet bowls
- Flush ornamental fountains and birdbaths periodically
- Aerate ornamental pools, or stock them with predatory fish
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