Although cases of West Nile virus are typically seen in early autumn in Iowa, three cases of the illness have already been reported in the state. According to the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), current surveillance data shows one case each in Clay, Monona, and Woodbury counties. Sentinel sites have also collected mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus in Central Iowa. The IDPH reminds Iowans to protect themselves against mosquito bites, the way by which West Nile virus is transmitted.
IDPH Medical Director, Dr. Patricia Quinlisk says “There has been a lot of media attention on the Chikungunya virus, another mosquito transmitted disease. No cases of Chikungunya have been reported in Iowa; however, it’s important to remember that the best way to avoid Chikungunya, West Nile virus, or other mosquito-borne diseases is to protect and prevent – protect yourself against mosquito bites and prevent mosquitoes from breeding by getting rid of the places they lay eggs.”
She offers these tips to protect yourself:
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 2013, there were 44 human cases of West Nile virus and zero deaths.
To see the latest surveillance report on Lyme disease and to learn more about how to prevent it, visit http://bit.ly/Ux5ZgW.