By Carson Gerber Kokomo Tribune
---- — The Miami County Health Department reported three pools of mosquitoes tested positive earlier this month for West Nile virus in southern parts of the county.
County officials said this is the first reported case of West Nile virus activity in 2013.
So far this year, no cases of the virus have been reported in Howard County, according to the Indiana State Department of Health. Tipton County reported one case of an infected mosquito.
The state health department reported 136 cases of infected mosquitoes statewide so far this year. Allen and Vigo counties lead the state with 12 cases. Marion County comes in second with 11 infected mosquito pools.
At this time last year, health officials were investigating 10 human cases of West Nile virus statewide. This year, only one human case has been reported in Ripley County in southeastern Indiana.
West Nile virus is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes that have first bitten an infected bird. A person bitten by an infected mosquito may show symptoms three to 15 days after the bite.
State health officials say that in previous years, most human cases of West Nile virus were reported between mid-July and mid-September.
The virus usually results in a mild illness known as West Nile fever, which can cause fever, headache, body aches, swollen lymph glands or a rash. However, a small number of individuals can develop a more severe form of the disease with encephalitis or meningitis and other neurological syndromes, including flaccid muscle paralysis.
The health department recommends local residents take the following protective steps when outdoors:
• Avoid being outdoors during prime mosquito biting times of dusk to dawn;
• Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaradin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus to clothes and exposed skin; and
• Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants while in areas where mosquitoes are biting.
The health department is also asking residents to take steps to rid their properties of potential mosquito breeding grounds by:
• Repairing failed septic systems;
• Drilling holes in the bottom of recycling containers that are left outdoors;
• Keeping grass cut short and shrubbery trimmed;
• Disposing of old tires, tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or other unused containers that can hold water;
• Cleaning clogged roof gutters, particularly if leaves tend to plug up the drains;
• Aerating ornamental pools, or stock them with predatory fish; and
• Maintaining swimming pools in a healthy manner.
Health officials report that although individuals over age 50 are at greatest risk for serious illness and even death from West Nile virus, people of all ages have been infected with the virus and have had severe disease.
For more information, visit the Miami County website at miamicountyin.gov or the Indiana State Department of Health website at http://www.in.gov/isdh/23599.htm.