— Indiana’s record-setting drought, complete with smoldering heat, has taken its toll on more than just plants. Health and environmental concerns are taking center stage as well during the steamy, dry summer.
“The one thing that would really concern us is that people think there aren’t mosquitos out, and that’s far from the truth,” offered Julie Haan of the Hendricks County Health Department. “Just because there’s a drought doesn’t mean there aren’t mosquitos. Use repellent. Still remove any kind of standing water around. People need to make sure their pools are properly sanitized and that water is not collecting in little pockets.”
She says that even a small amount of water is a haven for mosquitos to breed.
“Actually, that’s pretty much about it,” Haan says of mosquito calls being the ones she’s gotten regarding the drought. “People are concerned with how long it’s going to last and things like that, but we just want them to understand that yes, it’s dry, and yes, we’re getting into the time of year when West Nile is easily transmitted, so you have to be vigilant.”
Haan said one of the biggest health problems she’s heard about during the high temperatures Hoosiers have been experiencing are complaints about breathing problems.
“I know with all the dust there have been problems with asthma,” she said. “I know a lot of people have been experiencing problems with that.”
Dr. Megan Crittendon of IU Health West Hospital in Avon said that the emergency department there has seen an increase in the amount of heat-related injuries. On the rare times when we do get a little rain, that’s caused additional problems, she added.
“Especially people that aren’t as good at regulating their environment and themselves, like the very elderly, from being out in the heat and then young children,” she said of the escalation in heat injury patients in 2012. “We’re seeing an enormous amount of respiratory type illnesses and that’s because allergies and pollen have been so much heavier this year.
“We’re seeing lots of accidents from the little bit of rain we’ve had, and it’s due to when the road gets very slick during the first portion of the rain.”
Crittendon said there are some things people can do to protect themselves.
“Stay well hydrated,” she said. “It’s so dry, and not the humid heat in Indiana we normally have. Be very aware of children and the elderly outside and make sure they’re regulated very well. One thing people don’t always think of is that portions of car seats and things that are left outside can scald you by touching them.”