“We’re reminding the public to stay vigilant in protecting themselves against the West Nile virus, EEE, and other mosquito-borne illnesses by avoiding mosquito bites,” said Jennifer House, DVM, veterinary epidemiologist at the Indiana State Department of Health.
Dr. House says the West Nile virus usually causes West Nile fever, a milder form of the illness, which can include fever, headache, body aches, swollen lymph glands, or a rash. A small number of individuals will develop a more severe form of the disease with encephalitis or meningitis and other neurological syndromes, including flaccid muscle paralysis.
Symptoms of EEE include: fever, malaise, headache, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and eye pain when exposed to light, weakness, paralysis, confusion, incordination, seizures, and loss of consciousness.
According to Dr. House, the steps people need to take include:
· Avoiding places where mosquitoes are biting;
· Applying insect repellent containing DEET, picaradin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus to clothes and exposed skin;
· Installing or repairing screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out of the home; and
· When possible, wearing pants and long sleeves, especially if walking in woody or marshy areas.
Dr. House says it is also a good idea to take steps to rid properties of potential mosquito breeding grounds by:
* Discarding old tires, tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or other containers that can hold water;
* Repairing failed septic systems;
* Drilling holes in the bottom of recycling containers left outdoors;
* Keeping grass cut short and shrubbery trimmed;
* Cleaning clogged roof gutters, particularly if leaves tend to plug up the drains;
* Frequently replacing the water in pet bowls;
* Flushing ornamental fountains and birdbaths periodically; and
* Aerating ornamental pools, or stock them with predatory fish.
For updates on this and other public health issues, follow the Indiana State Department of Health on view the interactive county data map on mosquito-borne virus activity at: www.in.gov/isdh/23592.htm, or follow the agency on Twitter at: www.twitter.com/INPublicHealth.