-- — Three Hoosiers have died of West Nile virus.
After health officials announced Indiana’s first 2012 death Aug. 15 in Vanderburgh County, two others have died in Allen and Marion counties, reported Bryan Price, ISDH Zoonotic and Vectorborne Disease Control Division senior medical entomologist, Aug. 31.
Twenty-five confirmed cases in Adams, Allen, Fulton, Hamilton, Hancock, Jackson, Johnson, Lake, LaPorte, Marion, Monroe, Parke, Porter, Tippecanoe, Vanderburgh and Wells counties have been reported.
“We continue to be in the throes of the worst outbreak of West Nile virus since it was first discovered in the U.S. in 1999,” he said. “CDC has reported that we have more cases at this point in the summer than during the worst year on record. Although the majority of human cases have been in Texas thus far, we are seeing additional cases in Indiana and there is no reason to expect that our numbers won’t continue to climb.”
State health commissioner Gregory Larkin, M.D., noted, “Because this virus is carried and transmitted by mosquitoes, we are all susceptible to it. 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 open your windows, be sure they have screens so mosquitoes can’t get in.
“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.”
“The mosquito-borne virus isn’t just a risk for those spending time in wooded areas, fishing or camping,” according to the news release. The majority of people who become infected do so while spending time around the outside of the home, when working in the garden, mowing the lawn or simply sitting on the porch.
When possible, Hoosiers should wear pants and long sleeves when outside, especially if walking in wooded or marshy areas.
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 will develop a more severe form of the disease with encephalitis or meningitis and other severe syndromes, including flaccid muscle paralysis.
“The level of West Nile virus transmission has continued to increase at an ever concerning rate,” said Price Aug. 10.
“We have now started seeing both human and equine cases, and we certainly expect this trend to continue.”
Additionally, there have been two human cases of LaCrosse encephalitis documented from endemic counties in southeastern Indiana, including one in Ripley.
No mosquitoes tested positive for St. Louis encephalitis or Eastern equine encephalo-myelitis yet and no human or equine cases of those illnesses have been reported, according to Price.
There is no vaccine and no cure for West Nile virus, St. Louis encephalitis or Eastern equine encephalitis for humans. Individuals who think they may have West Nile virus should see a health care provider.
Nine cases of West Nile virus in horses in Adams, Allen, Elkhart, Hancock, LaGrange and Tippecanoe counties were reported by the Indiana Board of Animal Health. None had been recently vaccinated. Two were euthanized and one died from the disease.
The Marion County Health Department has reported one crow and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources has reported one blue jay testing positive for WNV.
So far state workers have collected 105,906 mosquitoes from all 92 counties. Seventy-seven counties, including Ripley and Franklin, had mosquitoes that tested positive for the virus.
During periods of drought, Culex mosquitoes are still able to thrive in stagnant locations, such as sewer systems, catch basins, tires, containers and creeks that have stopped flowing.
Some areas of the state have recently received some much needed rain. This has a positive and negative side, as the rain will serve to help flush out some breeding sites, but will also enable tires and containers to be refilled.
Updates to county level data is available at http://www.in.gov/isdh/23592.htm. For more information about mosquito safety, persons may visit ISDH’s Web site at www.StateHealth.IN. gov.
MOSQUITO BREEDING GROUNDS CAN BE REDUCED
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, particularly if leaves tend to plug up the drains;
Frequently replace water in pet bowls;
Flush ornamental fountains and birdbaths periodically;
Aerate ornamental pools, or stock them with predatory fish.