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Family of West Nile victim warns of risks

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – As more mosquitoes test positive for the West Nile Virus in central Indiana, health officials warn the illness could be one walk outside away.

Anyone can get the virus but according to the Marion County Public Health Department, the elderly, very young and those with chronic health issues are most at risk to be affected seriously.

The department said the most important measure in preventing mosquito bites is using repellent containing the product DEET.

That was a lesson learned the hard way for Ron Jones’ family.

His grandfather died from complications of West Nile Virus in February 2013.

“He was in peak physical shape; swim two miles a day and then gets admitted to the hospital. In a three-day span, he can’t even lift a spoon from the plate to his mouth,” Jones said of his 74-year-old grandfather.

James Grzanich died four months after his family suspects he was bitten by a mosquito while gardening. He was not known to use insect repellent.

Jones hopes others will take the health department’s suggestions of protection seriously.

“Take the extra two minutes. Put on the bug spray because it’s better than spending three months living in an ICU,” Jones said. “It’s devastating for not only the person experiencing it but the family as well.”

Mosquitoes have tested positive for the virus in Marion and Hamilton counties. Experts have said the number of carriers grows in hot, dry weather.