Mosquito experts: Take precautionary measures now

Rare virus found in N. Indiana this week

INDIANAPOLIS - Health experts advised the public to take precautionary measures after a virus transmitted by mosquitoes was found in northern Indiana on Monday.

Experts said now is the time to start thinking about mosquito protection and it is important to be aware that one bite could turn into more than just itchy skin.

Marion County's Mosquito Control Center studies mosquitos and the diseases they spread.

Concern this year was elevated because of a rare mosquito-borne virus called Chikungunya that has made its way into northern Indiana.

"People who have traveled to the Caribbean and then have returned back to the United States have then tested positive," Mosquito Control Supervisor Terry Gallagher said.

Health officials confirmed the single case in Allen County on Monday. Symptoms include fever, joint pain, joint swelling, headache and muscle pain.

The virus is only carried by certain species of mosquito, but experts said those species are in abundance in Indiana.

Health officials are worried about Chikungunya spreading because there is no known treatment or vaccine. The new threat is in addition to annual concerns surrounding illnesses like West Nile Virus.

"Newborns are considered more at risk and the elderly, which is typical of many of these mosquito-borne diseases," Gallagher said.

Experts said to wear long sleeves or insect repellent and, when possible, avoid standing water.

To keep your yard from becoming a breeding ground, dump out the water in the kiddie pool and remember to dispose of old tires.

"It's certainly the right time for people to become more aware and to take those steps to reduce the breeding of mosquitos," Gallagher said.

The Marion County Health Department is hosting a tire drop-off day Saturday. You can drop off old tires at the Mosquito Control Center or at several Meineke shops.

MORE: 2014 Marion Co. Tire Amnesty Day

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