INDIANAPOLIS — A central Indiana resident has contracted West Nile virus, the first Hoosier to test positive for the mosquito-borne disease this year.
The Indiana Department of Health announced Friday that the state’s first West Nile virus disease case of 2023 has been identified in an unnamed Johnson County resident. Additional info about the patient will not be released due to privacy laws, according to an IDOH news release.
Although this is the first human case of the year in Indiana, the Health Department has reported many detections of West Nile virus in mosquitos across the Hoosier State. In total, 225 mosquito samples taken from 60 counties have tested positive for the virus in 2023.
State health officials are now urging all Indiana residents to take precautions to protect themselves from mosquito bites.
“The risk of mosquito-borne disease remains through the first hard freeze,” said State Health Commissioner Lindsay Weaver. “Mosquito season is far from over, and simple prevention steps can help Hoosiers enjoy the outdoors without putting themselves at unnecessary risk.”
These steps, which mainly center around getting rid of stagnant water, include:
- Drain/discard old tires or other containers that can hold water
- Repair septic systems
- Drill holes in the bottom of containers that are left outside
- Clean clogged roof gutters
- Keep grass short and shrubs trimmed
- Frequently replace the water in pet bowls
- Install or repair window screens and doors
Officials also said Hoosiers should familiarize themselves with the symptoms of West Nile fever, which include fever, headache, body aches, swollen lymph glands and rashes.
“Some people will develop a more severe form of the disease affecting the nervous system, including inflammation in the brain and spinal cord, muscle paralysis, or even death,” IDOH said. “People older than 60 years are at higher risk of severe West Nile virus disease.”