Health officials urge West Nile virus protection

INDIANAPOLIS — State health officials are urging people to take steps to protect themselves from mosquito bites as West Nile virus activity picks up. As of July 16, mosquitoes have tested positive for West Nile virus in Elkhart, Carroll, Marion, Monroe and Tippecanoe counties. There have been no confirmed human cases in 2018, but the Indiana State Department of Health expects to continue to see increased West Nile activity throughout the state as mosquito season progresses. “We see cases of West Nile virus disease in Indiana every year,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box. “When we find evidence of the virus in multiple counties, that means the risk is starting to increase statewide. Hoosiers in every county should be taking precautions.”

State health officials recommend the following preventive measures:

• Avoid being outdoors during late afternoon, dusk to dawn and early morning;

• Apply an insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol;

• Cover exposed skin by wearing a hat, long sleeves and long pants in places where mosquitoes are especially active;

• Install or repair screens on windows and doors;

• Discard old tires, tin cans, ceramic pots or other containers that can hold water;

• Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers left outdoors;

• Keep grass cut short and shrubbery trimmed;

• Clean clogged roof gutters;

• Frequently replace the water in pet bowls;

• Flush ornamental fountains and birdbaths periodically.


Health officials reporte increase in tick-borne illnesses 

INDIANAPOLIS — State health officials are urging Hoosiers to protect themselves from ticks as cases of tick-borne disease continue to rise in the state. More than 100 cases of tick-borne disease have been reported so far in 2018, including one death due to ehrlichiosis in an elderly patient. Deaths from ehrlichiosis are rare in Indiana, with only four deaths reported in the last five years.

Ticks are small, insect-like creatures that are found throughout Indiana in grassy and wooded areas. They tend to be most active during the late spring and early summer. Ticks can transmit a variety of diseases, such as Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. In 2017, Indiana reported more than 250 cases of tick-borne illness.

“Cases of tick-borne disease tend to peak in July,” said Jennifer Brown, D.V.M., M.P.H., state public health veterinarian at the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH). “You should take precautions to prevent tick bites whenever you spend time outdoors. Call your health care provider right away if you develop a flu-like illness or a rash during the summer months.”

Symptoms of tick-borne disease can include a rash near the bite site and flu-like illness, including headache, muscle or joint pain and fever.

Hoosiers can reduce their risk of tick bites by:

• Wearing a long-sleeved shirt and light-colored pants, with the shirt tucked in at the waist and the pants tucked into socks, if they will be in grassy or wooded areas.

• Treating clothing and outdoor gear with 0.5% permethrin, an insect repellent commonly used for this purpose. Note that permethrin should NOT be used on bare skin.

• Using EPA-registered insect repellents with active ingredients such as DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD) or 2-undecanone.

• Treating pets for ticks.

Prompt removal of ticks can help prevent disease transmission. Once indoors, people should thoroughly check for ticks on clothing, gear, pets and skin and then shower to help remove any unattached ticks. Tumbling clothes in the dryer on high heat for 30 minutes will kill any ticks on clothing.

To safely remove a tick, use tweezers to grasp the tick close to the skin and then pull outward with steady and even pressure. After the tick is removed, wash the area thoroughly. The tick should be discarded by submerging it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag or container, wrapping it tightly in tape or flushing it down the toilet. Ticks should never be crushed with the fingernails.

Anyone who becomes ill after spending time outdoors should see a health care provider immediately and inform the provider about any possible tick exposure. Most tick-borne diseases can be successfully treated with antibiotics, and prompt diagnosis can help prevent complications from tick-borne infections.

For more information about ticks and how to prevent the diseases they carry, see the ISDH website at You also can visit ISDH at for important health and safety information or follow us on Twitter at @StateHealthIN and on Facebook at


Franciscan Health Crown Point offers diabetes education classes

CROWN POINT — Franciscan Health-Crown Point offers an ongoing series of diabetes classes on Tuesdays and Wednesdays to help provide participants with individual meal plans to meet specific needs, along with information in accordance with the American Diabetes Association Standards. Sessions take place from 1 to 3 p.m. Tuesdays and 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays. There are typically four sessions for each class. Topics include medication management, blood glucose monitoring, exercise, complication prevention, and nutrition with emphasis on carbohydrate counting, sodium, and fats. Classes take place in the Burrell classrooms, on the hospital’s lower level. Individual appointments are also available. Registration and a physician’s referral are required prior to class, and fees are covered by most insurance companies. For more information, call 219-757-6268.


Free prostate screenings in Franciscan Hammond and Dyer

HAMMOND — Franciscan Health’s Dyer and Hammond campuses will offer free prostate screenings from 5-7 p.m. Sept. 21 (Hammond) and Sept. 28 (Dyer). The programs will take place at the Hammond campus Oncology Center, 5454 Hohman Ave.; and at the Dyer campus Oncology Center, 24 Joliet St. (corner of U.S. 30 and Hart). Patients must be between 50 and 69, and must have had their last prostate screening prior to January 2016. Those younger than 50 must be African American, or at high risk due to family history. Patients will receive PSA, testosterone and cholesterol results within a few weeks. Registration is required. For information call 800-931-3322. 

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