West Nile virus cases confirmed in Iowa

Season typically lasts into early fall, officials say

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Gazette Des Moines Bureau

DES MOINES — Iowa has its first confirmed cases of the West Nile virus disease in humans this year.

Officials with the Iowa Department of Public Health announced Wednesday that testing at the State Hygienic Laboratory has confirmed that a girl under the age of 18 and an adult male between the ages of 41 and 60 years — both of Sioux County — were hospitalized due to the virus but are now recovering.

“West Nile virus season typically lasts from late summer into early autumn,” said Dr. Patricia Quinlisk, the department’s medical director. “These cases serve as a reminder to all Iowans that the West Nile virus is present and it’s important for Iowans to be using insect repellent when outdoors.”

To reduce the risk of exposure to West Nile virus, Iowans should use insect repellent with DEET, picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus — with some precautions regard to using these types of products for children. Health officials also advise Iowans to avoid outdoor activities at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active, wear long-sleeved shirts, pants, shoes, and socks whenever possible outdoors, and eliminate standing water around the home because that’s where mosquitoes lay eggs.

About 20 percent of people infected with West Nile virus will have mild to moderate symptoms, such as fever, headache, body aches and vomiting, according to the state public health agency, and less than 1 percent of people infected become seriously ill and even fewer die from the disease.

Since West Nile first appeared in Iowa in 2002, the disease has been found in every county in Iowa — either in humans, horses, or birds.

In 2015, 14 cases of West Nile virus were reported to state Department of Public Health. The last death caused by West Nile virus was in 2010, and there were two deaths that year. For more information about West Nile virus, visit idph.iowa.gov/cade/disease-information/west-nile-virus.

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