Health Department announces first human case of West Nile for 2017 in Delaware County

[FILE] A generic photograph of mosquitos.

DELAWARE COUNTY, Ind.– Officials announced Wednesday the first 2017 case of West Nile virus in humans for Delaware County.

This means there are now five reported human cases of the virus documented in Indiana: two cases in Hamilton County, one case in Bartholomew County, one case in Lake County, and now this case in Delaware County.

Additionally, mosquitoes in 53 of Indiana’s 92 counties have tested positive for West Nile virus.

West Nile virus is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes that have first bitten an infected bird. A person bitten by an infected mosquito may show symptoms three to 15 days after the bite.

West Nile virus usually causes a mild form of the illness, which can include fever, headache, body aches, swollen lymph glands, or a rash. However, a small number of individuals can develop a more severe form of the disease with encephalitis or meningitis and other neurological syndromes, including flaccid muscle paralysis. Some individuals may die from the infection.

Health officials say that although individuals over age 50 are at greatest risk for serious illness and even death from West Nile virus, people of all ages have been infected with the virus and have had severe disease.

With ongoing weather favorable to mosquitoes, the health department is urging Indiana residents to take steps to protect themselves from mosquito bites.

The Indiana State Health Department provided the following tips:

  • 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.

Mosquitoes breed in standing water. Even a container as small as a bottle cap can become a breeding ground, according to officials. Residents should take these steps:

  • 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.
  • Aerate ornamental pools, or stock them with predatory fish.

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