Human case of West Nile Virus reported in Hancock County

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Updated: .

The State Department of Health has reported a case of West Nile Virus in a central Indiana resident.

The state's map showing cases of West Nile Virus was updated Wednesday and is now showing one human case of the virus in Hancock County. The state's only other case of the virus in an Indiana resident this year was reported in Porter County last month.

Hoosiers are encouraged to take steps to protect themselves from West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne diseases.

In addition to the human case, mosquitoes in 18 counties have tested positive for the virus so far in 2014. Those counties include: Allen, DeKalb, Delaware, Dubois, Greene, Hamilton, Howard, Jefferson, LaGrange, Lake, Marion, Marshall, Morgan, Pike, Rush, Steuben, Sullivan and Vanderburgh. However, West Nile virus may be circulating in all 92 Indiana counties and Hoosiers should take precautions to prevent mosquito bites.

"This is the time of the year when Hoosiers are at a risk of getting West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne viruses," said State Health Commissioner Dr. William VanNess. "You can prevent these diseases by taking precautions to avoid mosquito bites."

State health officials recommend the following preventative measures:

  • Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are active (late afternoon and dusk to dawn and early morning);
  • Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol to clothes and exposed skin;
  • Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out of the home; and,
  • When possible, wear pants and long sleeves, especially if walking in wooded or marshy areas.

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 individuals will develop a more severe form of the disease with encephalitis or meningitis and other severe syndromes, including flaccid muscle paralysis.

To reduce potential mosquito breeding grounds:

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