HENDERSON, Ky (WEHT) – Indiana health officials announced the first case of West Nile virus was detected in a Johnson County resident, and mosquito samples from 60 counties have tested positive for the virus. The announcement comes just days after the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced the year’s first human West Nile virus related death.
IDPH said the individual who died was in their 90s and lived in suburban Cook County. Officials say the individual had an onset of symptoms of West Nile virus in early August and died soon after. According to a release, IDPH is also reporting 11 non-fatal cases of the virus in Cook, Kane, Macon, Madison, Will and Woodford counties.
West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of mosquitos which have picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird. Severe cases of the virus can lead to inflammation in the brain and spinal cord, muscle paralysis or death. There is no specific treatment for the virus, leading health officials in both Indiana and Illinois to emphasize the importance of preventing mosquito bites.
“Mosquito season is far from over,” said Indiana Health Commissioner Lindsay Weaver, “and simple prevention steps can help Hoosiers enjoy the outdoors without putting themselves at unnecessary risk.”
Indiana health officials recommended the following measures to prevent mosquito-borne diseases:
- Apply an EPA-registered insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, or 2-undecanone to clothes and exposed skin
- Avoid being outdoors when mosquitos are active
- Cover exposed skin by wearing a hat, long sleeves and long pants in places where mosquitos are especially active
- 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
- Frequently replace the water in pet bowls
- Flush ornamental founts and birdbaths periodically and aerate ornamental pools or stock them with predatory fish
Illinois officials encouraged the public to also ensure windows and doors have tight-fitting screens and replace screens that have tears or other openings.
You can see the latest updates on human cases and positive mosquito pools in Indiana on the state’s mosquito-borne activity dashboard. You can also view Illinois county statistics on their surveillance for West Nile virus web page.