DES MOINES — Iowa reported its first case of the mosquito-borne West Nile virus for 2020 on Wednesday and also its first-ever case of the Heartland virus thought to be transmitted by a tick.
The West Nile virus was reported in Polk County and involved an adult between 18 and 40 years old, according to the state Department of Public Health. The case was confirmed by the State Hygienic Laboratory.
The Heartland virus case was reported in Appanoose County in south-central Iowa involving an individual between 61 and 80 years old.
About 20 percent of the people infected with West Nile virus will have mild to moderate symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches and vomiting, state health officials said. Less than 1 percent of people infected with the virus become seriously ill; in rare cases, it results in death.
The Heartland phlebovirus was first discovered in Missouri in 2009 and is thought to be transmitted by the Lone Star tick. Since then, Heartland virus cases have expanded across the Midwest and southern United States.
Symptoms include fever, fatigue, anorexia, nausea and diarrhea.
“These reports are an important reminder that as Iowans take advantage of outdoor activities, they should take precautions to prevent tick and mosquito bites,” said Dr. Ann Garvey, deputy state epidemiologist and public health veterinarian.
The best way to prevent tick and mosquito-borne illnesses is to use insect repellent with DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus; 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 where mosquitoes lay eggs; and stay on trails when walking or hiking and avoid high grass.
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Iowans are advised to check themselves, their children and their pets for ticks after each day spent in tick-infested areas and remove any tick that is discovered.
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