Health

First West Nile case in Iowa this year reported

An Aedes aegypti mosquito is seen on human hand in a laboratory. (Reuters)
An Aedes aegypti mosquito is seen on human hand in a laboratory. (Reuters)

The first case of West Nile virus in the state in 2019 has been reported by state public health officials.

The Iowa Department of Public Health announced Friday that a man between the ages of 61 and 80 from Audubon County in Western Iowa was infected this year but since has recovered.

In 2018, 104 Iowans were diagnosed with West Nile virus and nine died.

West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne disease that causes West Nile fever. Humans are infected through a mosquito bite.

“Until the state’s first hard frost, whether it’s for work or play, being outside means there’s a risk for West Nile virus infection,” said Dr. Caitlin Pedati, Iowa Department of Public Health medical director.

Most people infected with West Nile virus do not develop any symptoms, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

However, about one in five infected people will develop a fever with other symptoms, such as headache, body aches, vomiting or rash. Most people with this type of the virus will experience fatigue and weakness for weeks or months, but recover completely.

But a few people — about one in 150 — do experience severe symptoms. They can develop encephalitis, which is an inflammation of the brain, or meningitis, an inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord, according to the CDC.

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Here are steps to take to reduce the risk of exposure to West Nile virus, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health:

• Use insect repellent with DEET, Picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus

• Avoid outdoor activities between dusk and dawn.

• Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants whenever possible.

• Eliminate standing water around the home to prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs.

• Comments: (319) 368-8536; michaela.ramm@thegazette.com

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