The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting that a total of 22 states in the United States have had confirmed cases of West Nile virus, including Indiana. However, there have only been cases of the virus in humans in half a dozen of those states, and Indiana is not one of them.
According to the agency, symptoms of a milder form of West Nile Virus include fever, headache, body aches, a rash or swollen lymph glands.
The virus can also cause a more severe form of the disease, which can lead to paralysis, meningitis, encephalitis, other neurological syndromes – and even death.
Individuals at greatest risk for contracting the more severe form of the virus are those age 50 and older, but anyone at any age can become infected.
There are ways to prevent becoming infected with the West Nile Virus. It starts with preventing mosquito bites in the first place, using insect repellent whenever you go outside. It’s also wise to find out if there is any West Nile Virus activity where you live.
If possible, try to wear long sleeves, long pants and socks before venturing outdoors. Spraying your clothes with insect repellent also helps since mosquitoes can bite through clothing that is too thin.
Repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, lemon eucalyptus oil and para-menthane-diol products are known for providing the longest-lasting protection.
You should also report any dead birds to state and local health departments, as the West Nile Virus is known to circulate between dead birds and mosquitoes.