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West Nile coming back

It has started again this year. West Nile virus has been found in mosquitoes in Elkhart, Carroll and Marion counties. It will most likely be found in Huntington County about any time now.

Our best protection is to avoid mosquito bites.

“We see cases of West Nile virus disease in Indiana every year,” said State Health Commissioner Kris Box, MD, FACOG. “When we find evidence of the virus in multiple counties, that means the risk is starting to increase statewide. Hoosiers in every county should be taking precautions against mosquito-borne diseases.”

The department recommends Hoosiers:

• 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

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

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

• Discard old tires, tin cans, ceramic pots or other containers that can hold water and breed mosquitoes

• Repair failed septic systems

• Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers left outdoors

• Keep grass cut short and shrubbery trimmed

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

• Frequently replace the water in pet bowls

• Flush ornamental fountains and birdbaths periodically

• Aerate ornamental pools, or stock them with predatory fish

State officials say West Nile virus can cause West Nile fever, a mild form of the illness, which can include fever, headache, body aches, swollen lymph glands or a rash. But 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.

Take care of yourself and your family while outdoors this summer.