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Hoosiers Urged To Take Precautions Against Mosquitoes After West Nile Virus Claims Two Lives
Updated September 24, 2015 7:22 AM | Filed under: Health
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(UNDATED) - State health officials are urging Hoosiers to protect themselves against mosquitoes amid an increase in the number of human cases of West Nile virus.

Twelve people have been diagnosed with the virus so far this year, including two who died. West Nile virus has been detected in mosquitoes in 69 Indiana counties so far in 2015.

In 2014, 10 people were sickened by the virus, but no one died.

"Our hearts go out to the families who have lost loved ones to this virus," said State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams, M.D., M.P.H. "Although West Nile deaths are rare, these cases serve as a reminder of just how important it is to protect ourselves from mosquitoes, both indoors and outdoors."

The mosquito-borne virus isn't just a risk for those spending time in wooded areas, fishing or camping. People also can become infected while spending time outside their homes, working in the garden, mowing the lawn or simply sitting on the porch.

Mosquito activity typically declines when the temperature drops below 60 degrees, but people remain at risk of being bitten and becoming infected with West Nile virus until a hard freeze, which occurs at approximately 30 degrees.

The following steps can help protect people from contracting West Nile virus:

  • Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin 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;
  • Avoid places where mosquitoes are biting; and,
  • When possible, wear pants and long sleeves, especially if walking in wooded or marshy areas.

Hoosiers also can reduce potential mosquito breeding grounds by eliminating areas where water can pool, repairing failed septic systems, cleaning clogged gutters and keeping grass and shrubbery trimmed. Support your community's vector control program, which may include spraying to kill adult mosquitoes or treating standing water to kill mosquito larvae.

Most people who are infected with West Nile virus will not develop any symptoms. Some will develop West Nile fever, a milder form of the illness, which can include fever, headache, body aches, swollen lymph glands or a rash. A small number will develop a more severe form of the disease that can lead to complications such as encephalitis, meningitis, flaccid muscle paralysis or death.

People who think they may be ill from West Nile virus should see their health care providers.

For historical data on West Nile virus activity in Indiana, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at http://www.cdc.gov/westnile/statsMaps/finalMapsData/index.html.

Visit the Indiana State Department of Health at www.StateHealth.in.gov for important health and safety information, or follow us on Twitter at @StateHealthIN and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/isdh1.

Hoosiers who do not have health care coverage or access to a doctor are encouraged to check availability for the new Healthy Indiana Plan--HIP 2.0--by visiting www.HIP.IN.gov or calling 1-877-GET-HIP-9.



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