The Indiana State Department of Health has confirmed the first two 2012 human cases of West Nile Virus in Indiana. One case is in Marion County; the other in Hamilton County.
Through laboratory testing, the Marion County Public Health Department has been capturing, testing and analyzing local mosquitoes during the last five months. Typically, Marion County sees human cases of West Nile Virus in late August, however, the drought conditions have been contributing factors in the increase of infected mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus.
"While not surprising, these human cases serve to remind all of us that mosquitoes with the West Nile Virus are active and we must remain vigilant in protecting ourselves," said Virginia A. Caine, M.D. director of the Marion County Public Health Department. "While fewer in numbers, the mosquitoes that are breeding, pose the greatest health threat."
Since 2002, Marion County has recorded a total of 52 West Nile human cases and a total of five human deaths. As of August 1, 42 states have reported West Nile virus infections in people, birds or mosquitoes.
Local health officials encourage Marion County residents to take a five-minute walk around where they live, play and work, looking for any container capable of holding water. "Clogged gutters, old tires, swimming pools, garden ponds, buckets and literally anything that hold water is a potential mosquito breeding site," said Chuck Dulla, administrator of the Marion County Public Health Department Mosquito Control program.
Those going outside one hour before sunset are advised to wear long pants, long sleeves and cover any exposed skin with a repellant containing the ingredient DEET, picaradin or oil from lemon eucalyptus.
When a human case of West Nile virus is found, the Marion County Public Health department initiates an immediate response plan. This plan includes:
Dispatching Environmental Health Specialists to a quarter-mile radius target area of the reported case to check and treat any areas of standing water.
Providing information pamphlets about mosquitoes and West Nile virus to residents of the target area.
Completing night spraying to knock down any adult mosquitoes in the area.
These steps, along with surveillance of the area, supplement the health department's overall mosquito effort.
Mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus have been found in every Township of Marion County.
Marion County residents with mosquito questions are encouraged to contact Mosquito Control Division at (317) 221-7440.