Flooding means West Nile worries

By: Erin Logan Email
By: Erin Logan Email

As if flooding isn't causing enough worries, there is something else to add to the list, diseases.

Standing water caused by heavy rainfall or overflow of rivers can be breeding grounds for mosquitoes. That means a higher risk for exposure to diseases like West Nile.

Even though we haven't been directly affected by the flooding in Michiana, people are still taking precautions.

At all hours of the day, John Eubanks takes care of his family.

As he looks at his horse he says, “We've raised her since she was a baby. She's 17 now so she's like one of the family.”

Even at work, Eubanks can keep an eye on his horse Shirley. His backyard is on the same grounds as his store, Al-Bar Ranch, a place where horse lovers come in and buy clothing and supplies, and of course chat with the horse expert.

He says, “We think about it every year.”

He's talking about horses dying from diseases like West Nile and the way the deadly disease gets spread.

Eubanks says, “With all of the water and raining we've had and flooding that's gone on it's prime breeding ground for mosquitoes in standing water.”

Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds. Infected mosquitoes can then spread West Nile virus to humans and other animals when they bite.

According to the Centers for Disease Control,
last year 24 people contracted West Nile in Indiana and one died.

In Michigan, 17 cases were reported. Four were fatal.

The United States Department of Agriculture says six Indiana horses came down with the disease, and four in Michigan.

Eubanks says there should be zero reported. It's all about protective measures.

He says, “An annual vaccination for West Nile and other infectious diseases by mosquitoes and of course fly sprays or the sheets they make and blankets to help protect them from insects.”

Three out of the twelve members in the Schwieterman family are horses. They consider them their babies.

Amanda Schwieterman says, “We always put face masks on them and it helps. If you don't spray them they definitely get eaten alive and you can tell their necks are bitten.”

Eubanks says, “We hear about it all the time.”

He’s talking about people losing their horses because of irresponsibility.

Schwieterman says, “Everyone thinks it's not going to happen to them.”

Make sure you protect yourself as well. The CDC says to use insect repellent when outdoors, especially at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.

-Wear long sleeves and pants

-Get rid of mosquito breeding sites by emptying standing water from flower pots, buckets and barrels.

-Change the water in pet dishes and replace the water in bird baths weekly.

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