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State Health Officials Continue to Urge Hoosiers to Protect Against West Nile Virus
September 3, 2008 - State health officials are urging Hoosier to protect themselves from West Nile virus, which was recently detected in 11 Indiana counties, including Henry, Rush and Hancock.
“When we look at what has occurred in previous years, the recent increase in the number of mosquito groups testing positive for the virus suggests a greater risk of people getting infected with West Nile virus,” James Howell, DVM, state epidemiologist at the Indiana State Department of Health, said in a press release issued last week. “The best thing people can do to prevent getting infected is to take some simple steps to protect themselves from getting bitten by a mosquito.”
According to the DOH, most people who contract the virus will experience very mild effects. Persons of all ages can be infected, but those over the age of 50 are at greatest risk for serious illness and even death if infected.
Besides avoiding being outside between dusk and dawn, prime mosquito biting times, Howell suggests applying insect repellant containing DEET, Picardin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus to clothes and exposed skin. He also recommends wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants.
Howell says the following actions can also help minimize the threat of West Nile virus:
• Disposing of old tires, tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or other unused containers that can hold water;
• Repairing failed septic systems;
• Drilling holes in the bottom of recycling containers left outdoors;
• Keeping grass cut short and shrubbery trimmed;
• Cleaning clogged roof gutters, particularly if leaves tend to plug up the drains; and
• Aerating ornamental pools, or stock them with predatory fish.
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