Indiana state health officials are advising Indiana residents to be aware and take extra precautions against mosquito bites this year, as West Nile virus has been detected. Thus far there have been no reported cases in humans, but they did take a sample from a mosquito, which tested positive for West Nile. While at this time they cannot report with 100% certainty that the virus is widespread, the Department of Health in Indiana does feel confident that the virus is big enough that it will be an issue for people this mosquito season.
The Indiana Department of Health expects to see positive tests for West Nile through the entire buggy season, going through to the first big freeze in the fall/winter.
Typically, the warm weather brings out mosquitoes in droves. They thrive more in warmer weather and, with more people spending time outside leaving areas that create a mosquito’s dream place, have more opportunities to eat and breed. This is what leads to summer being mosquito season.
This mosquito season, health experts advise taking far more precautions than normal, due to the virus being present this year. The first suggestion is one made to prevent frequent breeding and that is to eliminate standing water as much as possible. This is mosquitoes’ biggest breeding ground. If residents are able to limit the amount of standing water, they will be able to reduce the amount of breeding and therefore reduce the number of mosquitoes. The state Health Commissioner suggests that they look out for things like unused tires and other various items that, if left outside, can easily collect, and hold water.
One county in Indiana even has a mosquito control program in which they have a “Tire Recycle Day.”
On this day, they are encouraging their residents to bring in any unused tire to prevent the issue. One of the coordinators of the program said he further encourages people to check frequently around their houses for standing water areas. He suggests dumping any water that is found, frequently changing water in bird baths, and checking for clogged gutters.
While the Indiana Department of Health asks residents to take as many precautions as possible to prevent the virus, they also advise people to be aware of the symptoms and news regarding the virus. On average, 80% of those infected with West Nile do not experience any symptoms. The other 20% exhibit fever, head and body aches, joint pain, vomiting, diarrhea, or a develop a rash.
The ultimate concern for health officials in the state is the health and safety of state residents. According to some final advice from them, everyone should wear an EPA-regulated repellent, cover up their skin as much as possible when in heavy mosquito areas, and install netting in parts of a house where mosquitoes might get in.