First signs of West Nile virus reported in Boone County

Boone County

The first signs of the West Nile virus were reported in Boone County, health officials announced Wednesday.

The Indiana State Department of Health also reported mosquitoes tested positive for the West Nile virus in other counties across the state, including Bartholomew, Benton, Boone, Clay, Daviess, Fayette, Hamilton, Henry, Jennings, Johnson, Lake, Marion, Miami, Noble, Orange, Putnam, Randolph, Ripley, Tipton, Vanderburgh and Wayne.

Officials said the first sightings of the virus appeared earlier than normal, due to the hot, dry weather conditions.

"Once we detect West Nile virus in mosquitoes, we know people are at greater risk for infection,” said Jennifer House, DVM, veterinary epidemiologist at the Indiana State Department of Health. “Fortunately, there are several simple, effective steps Hoosiers can take to protect themselves from mosquito bites.”

The virus is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes that initially bit an infected bird.  An infected person may show symptoms of the virus three to 15 days after they were bitten.

Dr. House recommends people take the following protective steps:

  • 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;
  • Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out of the home; and,
  • When possible, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants when outside.

West Nile virus can cause someone to have a fever, headache, body aches, swollen lymph glands or a rash.  However, health officials said some individuals developed a more severe form of the disease with encephalitis or meningitis and other neurological syndromes, including flaccid muscle paralysis. 

People over the age of 50 are at the greatest risk for serious illness and even death.  They said more than 20 Hoosiers have died from the illness, including one in 2011.

Since 2002, when Indiana had its first human case of West Nile virus, officials said more than 20 Hoosiers have died from the illness, including one in 2010.

Dr. House is also asking Hoosiers to take steps to rid their properties of potential mosquito breeding grounds by: