Zika Virus On Health Department’s Radar
By Mike Perleberg
(Indianapolis, Ind.) – Concerns over the mosquito-borne Zika and West Nile viruses has the Indiana State Department of Health issuing a warning to citizens.
“Mosquitoes can transmit many illnesses, some of which can have tragic consequences, so it’s important that Hoosiers take steps to prevent bites and eliminate breeding grounds,” State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams said Tuesday. “These precautions will protect not only you and your family, but also your neighbors and your community.”
Indiana has had six confirmed human cases of the Zika virus so far this year. The first was discovered in February. The department says each of those cases in someone associated with international travel. Most prevalent in South America, Zika virus has been determined by Centers for Disease Control scientists to cause microcephaly in the babies of infected mothers.
As for West Nile, it remains the most common mosquito-borne illness in Indiana. Last year, the disease claimed two lives in the state.
The risk of local transmission of Zika by mosquitoes in Indiana remains low, but there are steps that Hoosiers can take to reduce their risk. Those steps from the ISDH include:
– Avoid outdoor activity at times and places where mosquitoes are biting;
– Wear a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, and socks when outdoors;
– Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535 to exposed skin;
– Take steps to eliminate mosquito breeding grounds outside your home.
– Control mosquitoes in and around the home by installing or repairing window and door screens; removing, overturning or covering containers where water can collect outdoors; flushing out bird baths, pet dishes and kiddie pools once a week; properly disposing of used tires; repairing damaged septic systems; cleaning clogged gutters; and keeping grass and shrubbery trimmed.
The ISDH will continue to monitor for human cases of mosquito-borne illnesses in all 92 Indiana counties. The surveillance will be enhanced this year to look for types of mosquitoes associated with the Zika virus.