Health officials said the sightings have occurred two weeks earlier than normal, which is due to the hot, dry weather conditions in Central Indiana.
“Although we have seen mosquitoes with the virus as early as April, this is unusual, and likely the result of the hot, dry conditions and the warmer than normal weather we have had in Marion County since early spring,” said Jim Erwin, Biologist, mosquito control.
The first discovery of the virus this year was on June 7, when health officials said mosquitoes in Orange County, located in southern Indiana, tested positive. The virus is commonly found in the state during the summer, and health officials said there will likely be an increase in activity in other Indiana counties. Last years, officials said the West Nile virus was detected in 34 Indiana counties.
The virus is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes that initially bit an infected bird. An infected person may show symptoms of the virus three to 15 days after they were bitten.
West Nile virus can cause someone to have a fever, headache, body aches, swollen lymph glands or a rash. However, health officials said some individuals developed a more severe form of the disease with encephalitis or meningitis and other neurological syndromes, including flaccid muscle paralysis.
People over the age of 50 are at the greatest risk for serious illness and even death. They said more than 20 Hoosiers have died from the illness, including one in 2011.
Health officials are encouraging people to look for any container capable of holding water, which could create a potential mosquito breeding ground. Open containers should be brought inside or covered up.
If you are outdoors, it is recommended you use a mosquito repellent or wear long pants and sleeves when going out near sunset.
For mosquito-related information, contact the Marion County Public Health Department at 221-7440.