Officials have detected mosquitoes carrying the West Nile Virus in Marion County. The county’s health department found the bugs in a surveillance trap. No human infections have been reported yet this year.
Health officials have found the virus in 15 other Indiana counties so far this summer, including Morgan, Hamilton, Greene and Sullivan. That number is expected to rise. Bryan Price, an epidemiologist with the Indiana State Department of Health, says that while the disease is cause for concern, the West Nile Virus has become a fact of life when it comes to summer in Indiana.
“We found West Nile Virus in mosquitoes in 91 out of 92 counties in 2012 and in 87 out of 92 last year,” he said. “We know it’s out there, it’s not going anywhere.”
Ken Severson, a spokesman for the department, says he recommends residents start taking extra precautions as soon as the virus is detected in their county.
“We want everyone to be alert, everywhere,” he said. “You can do other things as well to lessen the risk.”
Precautions include avoiding the outdoors around dawn and dusk, when bugs are most active, and wearing repellant with DEET.
Both Price and Severson emphasize the importance of eliminating standing water, where mosquitos lay their eggs. This includes habitually draining not only birdbaths and puddles, but also clogged gutters and pets’ food and water dishes.
Most people who develop West Nile Virus do not show any sign of having the disease. Sometimes, people exhibit flu-like symptoms, and in extremely rare cases, those infected can suffer from severe neurological illnesses such as meningitis.