First 2017 cases of West Nile virus in humans reported in Indiana

HAMILTON COUNTY, Ind. -- The first two 2017 cases of West Nile virus in humans have been reported in Hamilton and Lake counties and state officials are urging Hoosiers to take steps to protect themselves from getting bit by mosquitos.

In addition to those two cases, mosquitos in Morgan and Tippecanoe counties have also tested positive for the virus, although there have been no reports of humans contracting the disease so far in those counties.

“Unfortunately, West Nile disease is a common occurrence in Indiana during mosquito season,” said State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams, M.D., M.P.H. “When we find evidence of the virus in multiple countries, that means the risk is starting to increase statewide. Protecting yourself from mosquito bites and eliminating breeding grounds are the best ways to prevent mosquito-borne illnesses.”

State health officials recommend the following steps to help prevent mosquito bites:

  • 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.

West Nile virus can cause West Nile fever, a mild form of the illness, which can include fever, headache, body aches, swollen lymph glands or a rash. Some people will develop a more severe form of the disease affecting the nervous system, including inflammation in the brain and spinal cord, muscle paralysis or death. People who think they may have West Nile virus should see a healthcare provider.  

RELATED | Mosquitos with West Nile found in Tippecanoe County | REPORT: Indianapolis 20th most mosquito-infected city in the US

The health department also warns that mosquitos breed in standing water and that even a container as small as a bottle cap can become a breeding ground for the insect.

State health officials recommend the following steps to help reduce the risk of mosquitos breeding near your home:

  • 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

RELATED | Indiana toddler dies from Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever from tick bite | Powassan: Experts warn of deadly tick-borne virus you need to watch out for this summer

The Marion County Public Health Department's Mosquito Control program is also hosting a tire recycle day to help get rid of tires that can retain water and become breeding grounds for mosquitos. 

Drop-off locations for Tire Recycle Day on June 17 include:

Marion County Public Health Department Mosquito Control          

  • 4001 E. 21st St.

Southeast Community Organization (SECO) 

  • 1925 Fletcher Ave.

Participating Meineke Care Care Centers in Indianapolis

  • North:  4101 N. Keystone Ave. & 5323 W. 38th St. & 6401 E. 82nd St.
  • East:    8410 E. Washington St. & 7352 Pendleton Pike
  • West:   7290 W. Washington St.
  • South:  3150 S. Madison Ave. & 4905 S. Emerson Ave.

For more information about Tire Recycle Day, please contact the Marion County Public Health Department’s Mosquito Control program at 317-221-7440.


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