According to the Department of Natural Resources health officials report that the West Nile Virus is not only present in Indiana, but is actually widespread. The virus was first identified within the state in 2001, the same year it was discovered in Wisconsin, Missouri, Kentucky, Iowa and Illinois.
Mosquitoes acquire the virus after feeding on an infected bird. The West Nile Virus can only be transmitted to people through a mosquito bite. However the chance that one mosquito bite will be from an infected mosquito is very small. Even in areas where West Nile Virus is actively transmitted usually less than one in 500 mosquitoes are infected.
Just because the chances are small doesn’t mean you should let your guard down. If you do receive a bite followed by symptoms such as high fever, headaches, muscle weakness, swollen lymph nodes and/or confusion chances are you’ve been infected and should see a doctor immediately. Symptoms will generally occur 3 to 15 days following initial exposure. Those with compromised immune systems, the elderly and very young are at high risk of serious illness after a bite from an infected insect. Measures should be taken to avoid being bitten all together.
The Indiana Department of Health released a number of methods that can reduce the likelihood of being bitten such as wearing bug spray that contains DEET, using mosquito netting when when sleeping outdoors or in an un-screened structure, tucking pant legs into socks or shoes and wearing light colored, tightly woven materials to keep the mosquitoes away from your skin.
To reduce mosquito populations around your home be sure to keep grass and shrubbery cut and trimmed and eliminate areas of standing water, dispose of old tires, cans, containers that may hold water. Standing water serves as the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. Putting these tips into practice can cut down the amount of summer mosquito bites you acquire and significantly diminish the chance of contracting the West Nile Virus.