West Nile Virus-positive mosquito pool detected in Hancock County

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FORTVILLE — The Hancock County Health Department is urging Hancock County residents to protect themselves from mosquito bites following the detection of the first West Nile Virus-positive mosquito pool of 2022 in Fortville.

West Nile virus was detected in a sample of mosquitoes collected from Fortville, and there have been no reported human cases at this time, according to a news release from the Hancock County Health Department.

The Indiana Department of Health and Hancock County Health Department expect to see additional West Nile Virus activity as the mosquito season progresses. Residents across the county should take precautions to reduce their risk of exposure.

Even a container as small as a bottle cap can become a mosquito breeding site, so residents should take the following steps:

• Discard old tires, tin cans, ceramic pots or other containers that can hold stagnant water;

• Repair failed septic systems;

• Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers left outdoors;

• Clean clogged roof gutters, particularly if leaves tend to plug up the drains;

• Keep grass cut short and shrubbery trimmed;

• Flush ornamental fountains and birdbaths periodically;

• Aerate ornamental pools, or stock them with predatory fish.

• Frequently replace the water in pet bowls; and

• Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out of the home.

The Hancock County Health Department recommends the following measures to prevent mosquito-borne diseases when venturing outside:

• Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are active (especially late afternoon, dusk to dawn and early morning);

• Apply an EPA-registered insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol to clothes and exposed skin; and

• Cover exposed skin by wearing a hat, long sleeves and long pants in places where mosquitoes are especially active, such as wooded areas.

West Nile Virus is solely a mosquito-borne illness, meaning that it is only transmitted by mosquitoes and will not spread from human to human. Roughly one in four people who become infected with West Nile Virus will become ill, with symptoms lasting three to 10 days, and including fever, headache, myalgia and loss of appetite. A very small fraction of individuals (about one in 230) may experience severe symptoms, usually in the form of meningitis or encephalitis. There is currently no treatment for West Nile Virus, thus the best practice to prevent West Nile Virus is to avoid mosquito bites altogether.

People older than 60 years and those with underlying health conditions are at higher risk of developing severe disease. Individuals who think they may have West Nile virus should contact their health care provider.

For further information and questions, please contact the Hancock County Health Department at 317-477-1125, or consult the Indiana Department of Health website at Health: Epidemiology Resource Center: Mosquito Bite Prevention (in.gov).