Contact: Collette DuValle, 317-373-2391

STATE HEALTH OFFICIALS REPORT WEST NILE VIRUS DEATH

INDIANAPOLIS - State health officials reported the death of an individual in Marion County from West Nile virus. This is the first West Nile virus death in 2009.

"I would like to extend my sympathies to the family for their loss," said State Health Commissioner Judy Monroe, M.D. "Although most people have a very mild disease when infected, this is a sad reminder that West Nile virus can cause serious illness and even death."

Health officials say 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.

Dr. Monroe recommends people continue to take the following protective steps when they are outdoors:

  • Avoid being outdoors during prime mosquito biting times, dusk to dawn, when possible;
  • Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaradin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus to clothes and exposed skin; and
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants.

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.

"In previous years, we've seen most of the human cases in the state reported in the months of August and September, so this is an important time for people to protect themselves and their families," said Dr. Monroe.

The 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. 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.

As a result, state health officials are also asking Hoosiers to take steps to rid their properties of potential mosquito breeding grounds by:

  • 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
  • Emptying containers holding water from recent rain storms.

For more information, visit the Indiana State Department of Health Web site at: www.statehealth.IN.gov.

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