State health officials have announced the state’s first death this year due to West Nile virus.
“Although we’re past the normal peak season for West Nile virus, which was in August and September, there’s still a risk of becoming infected on warmer days when mosquitoes are biting,” said Jennifer House, DVM, director of zoonotic and environmental epidemiology at the Indiana State Department of Health.
Mosquitoes are typically not very active below 60 F, however until there is a hard freeze (approximately 30 F), there is still a risk of being bitten and becoming infected with West Nile virus. House said Hoosiers should continue taking precautions.
Health officials say the following steps will help protect you from West Nile virus:
- Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaradin or oil of lemon eucalyptus to clothes and exposed skin;
- Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out of the home;
- Avoid places where mosquitoes are biting; and,
- When possible, wear pants and long sleeves, 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. Anyone who thinks they may have West Nile virus should see their health care provider.
There is no vaccine and no cure for West Nile virus, Saint Louis encephalitis or Eastern equine encephalitis for humans.
So far this year, no mosquito samples in Indiana have tested positive for St. Louis encephalitis or Eastern Equine Encephalomyelitis.