State Health Officials warn West Nile virus activity high

DES MOINES, Iowa-  State Health officials say West Nile virus cases have hit the second highest number since the mosquito-borne virus was first found in Iowa in 2002.

The Iowa Department of Public Health is investigating 73-cases right now.   The highest year was 2003, when Iowa had 147-cases.   Three people in Iowa have died so far this year from West Nile virus.

Health officials say most people who become infected with West Nile virus do not develop any symptoms, but about one in five will.

Symptoms include:

Headache

Body aches

Joint pains

Vomiting

Diarrhea

Rash

“School has started, Halloween is just around the corner and some people are even thinking about the holidays, but mosquitoes are still thriving and biting,” said IDPH Deputy Epidemiologist, Dr. Ann Garvey. “West Nile virus activity will continue until the state's first hard frost, regardless of the date on the calendar."

The Iowa Department of Public Health has issued several recommendations to reduce the risk of getting the virus: 

Use insect repellent with DEET, Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535. 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, oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under 3 years of age and DEET should not be used on children less than 2 months of age.

  • Avoid outdoor activities at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts, pants, shoes and socks outdoors whenever possible.

In addition, and especially since the recent statewide rainy weather, it’s important to eliminate standing water around your property 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.

So far this season, three Iowans have died from West Nile virus. For more information on mosquito and tick transmitted diseases in Iowa visit https://www.idph.iowa.gov/cade/vectorborne-illness.



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