INDIANAPOLIS (WANE) — The Indiana State Department of Health will spray pesticide across northern Indiana to control a potentially deadly mosquito-borne virus.
The state recently confirmed a lab-confirmed case of Eastern equine encephalitis virus disease in a LaPorte County resident, as well as probable EEE cases in two horses in LaGrange County, one horse in LaPorte County and one horse in Kosciusko County. Three more horses in LaGrange County have suspected EEE.
Earlier this week, the state issued a warning to northern Indiana residents because there is suitable habitat for mosquitoes throughout the area. Mosquitoes that carry EEE virus have a flight range of up to five miles, and the state defined the “affected area” as some 375,000 acres in portions of Elkhart, Kosciusko, LaGrange, LaPorte, Marshall and Noble counties.
The state health department said Friday that targeted mosquito control to help protect residents from EEE will begin Tuesday evening and continuing Wednesday if needed and as weather permits.
“Although it’s rare, Eastern equine encephalitis can cause serious illness and is fatal in about a third of people who contract this disease,” said State Health Commissioner Kris Box, M.D., FACOG. “We are taking this step to protect Hoosiers in the affected areas, but I urge everyone to take precautions to guard against mosquito bites and to eliminate mosquito breeding grounds until we have the first hard freeze.”
The pesticide Dibrom will be sprayed. Ultra-low volumes prayers will dispense very fine aerosol droplets that stay suspended in the air and kill adult mosquitoes on contact.
People who wish to minimize exposure may choose to stay indoors for several hours, beginning at dusk on the treatment dates. People may also choose to bring animals indoors and cover their ornamental fishponds prior to the spraying. Evening application of Dibrom is not expected to be harmful to bees, but beekeepers may choose to cover their hives overnight and prevent bees from exiting during the application as a precaution.
In 2019, northern Indiana experienced a significant outbreak of EEE virus activity, resulting in 14 horse cases, one fatal human case and one positive mosquito sample. The Indiana Department of Health also conducted spraying during the 2019 outbreak.