The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) today announced the first confirmed human case of West Nile virus disease in Iowa of 2012. The case is a female older adult (61 to 80 years of age) from Lyon County, who is recovering. “The extreme drought conditions in Iowa have dramatically reduced the mosquito population here,” said IDPH Medical Director, Dr. Patricia Quinlisk. “This West Nile case, however, is a reminder that the virus is still out there and Iowans should take precautions.”
West Nile virus is transmitted through mosquitoes. The best way to prevent the virus is to eliminate mosquito breeding areas and to use insect repellent when outdoors. Iowans should take the following steps to reduce the risk of exposure to West Nile virus:
- Use insect repellent with DEET, picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Always read the repellent label and consult with a health care provider if you have questions when using these types of products for children. For example, DEET should not be used on infants less than 2 months old and oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under 3 years old.
- Avoid outdoor activities at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts, pants, shoes, and socks whenever possible outdoors.
- Eliminate standing water around the home because that's where mosquitoes lay eggs. Empty water from buckets, cans, pool covers and pet water dishes. Change water in bird baths every three to four days.
Approximately 20 percent of people infected with West Nile virus will have mild to moderate symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches and vomiting. Less than one percent of people infected become seriously ill and rarely someone dies.
Since West Nile first appeared in Iowa in 2002, it has been found in every county in Iowa, either in humans, horses, or birds. In 2011, there were nine human cases of West Nile virus and two deaths.
For more information about West Nile virus, visit www.idph.state.ia.us/Cade/DiseaseIndex.aspx?disease=West Nile Virus.