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Indiana reports on likely human cases of potentially deadly virus associated with mosquitoes

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WANE) – The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) is urging residents to protect themselves from mosquito bites following reports of a probable human case of Eastern equine cephalitis (EEE) in LaPorte County and the detection of the virus in horses in northern Indiana.

As of September 14, two horses in LaGrange County and one horse in Kosciusko County have tested positive for the EEE virus. Because there are adequate habitats for mosquitoes throughout the area, residents in all northern Indiana counties should take precautions.

In 201

9, northern Indiana experienced a significant outbreak of EEE virus activity, resulting in 14 horse cases, a fatal human case, and a positive mosquito sample.

“Eastern equine encephalitis virus disease is rare in humans, but can cause permanent complications and even death,” said State Health Commissioner Kris Box, MD, FACOG. “While all Hoosiers are at risk for mosquito-borne diseases, residents of northern Indiana need to pay special attention right now.”

The EEE virus can cause serious illness and has a mortality rate of about 33 percent or higher in humans. Many people who recover can still experience long-term complications. Symptoms of EEE virus include chills, fever, body aches and joint pain. Some people develop a more severe form of the disease that affects the nervous system and causes encephalitis or inflammation of the brain.

People younger than 15 and older than 50 are most at risk for serious illness if they are infected with the EEE virus. People who think they may have EEE virus should visit a healthcare provider.

State health officials recommend that all Hoosiers take the following steps to prevent mosquito bites:

  • Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are active (especially late afternoon, dusk and early morning)
  • Use an EPA-registered insect repellent containing DEET, picaridine, IR3535, lemon eucalyptus oil or 2-undecanone on clothing and exposed skin
  • Cover exposed skin by wearing a hat, long sleeves and long pants in places where mosquitoes are particularly active, such as wooded areas
  • Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out of your home

You can remove mosquito breeding sites from your property by doing the following:

  • Dispose of old tires, cans, ceramic pots or other containers that can hold water
  • Repair of failed septic systems
  • Drill holes in the bottom of recycling bins left outdoors
  • Make sure the grass is cut short and the shrub is trimmed
  • Clean clogged gutters, especially if leaves tend to clog drains
  • Often replace the water in pet bowls
  • Rinse periodically ornamental fountains and bird baths
  • Air ornamental basins, or fill them with predatory fish

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