Health expert’s advice after first West Nile death in years


INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Marion County has recently seen the first death from West Nile since 2012. Willard Barger Jr., 63, died Sept. 18 due to complications from West Nile.

A health expert now has advice for people for the remainder of mosquito season.

“We are seeing an uptick in mosquito bites right now, I noticed that this weekend and it’s because it has been a very warm, wet summer and that always provides more opportunities for mosquitoes to breed,” said Mary Kay Foster, who is the Special Pathogens Director for IU Health.

She said those who have more severe complications from West Nile are people who are over the age of 60.

“One in five people will actually develop symptoms so I could have gotten bit this weekend and be infected but not have symptoms. So, one in 150 people will actually develop the more severe form which is encephalitis, which is inflammation to the brain,” she added.

Foster said if you get bit and don’t have any symptoms then you’re okay.

“Once we get that first good, hard freeze, our mosquitoes should die off. We’ll kind of start seeing more and more of these diseases that are caused by ticks and mosquitoes due to warmer temperatures due to climate change.”

Some of the ways you can protect yourself is using a bug spray that has 25 percent DEET in it, especially during the evening time because that is when the mosquitoes that carry West Nile are active.

Also, standing water creates a breeding ground for mosquitoes so with all the recent rain we’ve seen, make sure you don’t have any standing water. Even something as small as a bottle cap full of water is enough for mosquitoes to breed in.

For more information, click here. 

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