Officials: Iowa man contracts West Nile

There were 44 reported cases last year

Thinkstock ¬ mosquito
Thinkstock ¬ mosquito

A Clay County man has the first confirmed case of West Nile virus in Iowa this year, according to the Iowa Department of Health. But floodwaters are likely not to blame, officials said.

“This West Nile case should serve as notice that the virus is out there and Iowans should take precautions,” said Dr. Patricia Quinlisk, IDPH medical director.

Last year, there were 44 reported cases of West Nile virus, which is transmitted through mosquitoes, in the state. Officials said the heavy rains and flooding could lead to an increased number of mosquitoes this summer but flood mosquitoes rarely carry the virus.

However, the health department cautioned that mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus tend to lay eggs in stagnant water, so it’s important to eliminate standing water in ditches and other recesses.

Approximately 20 percent of people infected with West Nile virus have mild to moderate symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches and vomiting, the health department said.

Less than 1 percent of people infected will develop a serious neurological illness, including swelling of the brain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 10 percent of people who develop neurological infection will die.

Since West Nile arrived in the United States in 1999, more than 39,000 people have contracted the disease and more than 1,600 have died, according to the CDC. The virus first appeared in Iowa in 2002, the state health department said.

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