West Nile Virus Hits Indiana; Repellent Encouraged

It has finally come to Indiana; the first person in the state has been diagnosed with West Nile Virus. While it isn’t quite time to panic, we should still do what we can to avoid mosquitoes. Sherry Fagner, environmental health specialist at the Pulaski County Health Department, told WKVI that there are numerous ways to avoid the annoying pests and cut down on the risk of West Nile at the same time.

“Basically, what we recommend is using repellent, wearing long-sleeve shirts and pants, especially in early mornings and late evenings – dawn and dusk is when they say they’re out, so that’s probably the best way to avoid being bit is to either not be out at those times or take the precautions with the repellents,” said Fagner.

The person diagnosed with the virus lives in Ripley County. The virus, which is only transmitted by mosquitoes, can cause two diseases in people: the milder West Nile fever and the more serious neuro-invasive disease that can potentially cause meningitis or encephalitis.

Last year, 77 cases of the virus were reported with eight deaths. This year, ten batches of mosquitoes have turned positive for West Nile, and this first case in Indiana may be the first of several.

To further reduce the risk of contracting West Nile Virus, limit your exposure outside and apply bug repellent with DEET to exposed skin. Also remove pools of water from your property, since mosquitoes can reproduce in as little as a teaspoon of water.