LAKE COUNTY, Ind. — State health officials are urging Hoosiers to protect themselves from mosquito bites after the first reported case of West Nile virus of 2021.
The human case is in Lake County, but the state said the virus has been detected in mosquitoes in multiple counties. Those include Allen, Clark, Daviess, Elkhart, Floyd, Gibson, Hamilton, Jennings, Lake, Marion, Martin, Pike, Scott, Steuben, St. Joseph, Vanderburgh and Vigo counties.
“Mosquitoes are still active even in cooler fall weather,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box. “Hoosiers in every county should take precautions against mosquito-borne diseases until the first hard freeze.”
West Nile symptoms can include fever, headache, body aches, swollen lymph glands or a rash. Some people will develop a more severe form of the disease affecting the nervous system, including inflammation in the brain and spinal cord, muscle paralysis, or even death.
State health officials recommend the following measures to prevent mosquito-borne diseases:
- Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are active (especially late afternoon, dusk to dawn and early morning);
- Apply an EPA-registered insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol to clothes and exposed skin;
- Cover exposed skin by wearing a hat, long sleeves and long pants in places where mosquitoes are especially active, such as wooded areas;
- Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out of the home.
Even a container as small as a bottle cap can become a mosquito breeding site, so residents should take the following steps to eliminate potential breeding sites:
- 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 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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