The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) today announced the first confirmed human case of West Nile virus in Iowa this year. The case is an adult male (18 to 40 years of age) from Clay County, who is recovering. “This West Nile case should serve as notice that the virus is out there and Iowans should take precautions,” said IDPH Medical Director, Dr. Patricia Quinlisk.
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.
Recent heavy rains and flooding in Iowa could lead to an increased number of mosquitoes this summer. These ‘flood’ mosquitoes rarely carry the West Nile virus; therefore, heavy rain and flooding don’t necessary result in increased West Nile virus cases. Mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus tend to lay eggs in stagnant water. This is why it’s important to eliminate standing water. If flood waters pool and become stagnant in ditches or other recesses, it is possible West Nile virus-carrying mosquitoes could breed there as well. It is when flood water lies stagnant for several weeks the threat of mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus increases.
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 2013, there were 44 human cases of West Nile virus and zero deaths.
For more information about West Nile virus, visit http://bit.ly/1iTO2Vc.