Although the CDC has declared the recent West Nile virus outbreak as the largest ever seen in the U.S., Iowa West Nile virus case reports have been consistent with recent years. The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) has received five confirmed cases of the mosquito-borne illness and several additional cases are currently being investigated. The five confirmed cases include one each in Grundy, Linn, Lyon, Page, and Plymouth counties. All patients have recovered.
While overall mosquito activity has been lower this year, likely due to the extremely dry spring and summer, these cases illustrate West Nile virus is circulating and causing illness. "Iowans may think the use of mosquito spray while outdoors is unnecessary because there seem to be few mosquitoes bothering them. IDPH urges the continued use of insect repellent with DEET while outdoors to protect against mosquitoes which may be carrying the West Nile virus, and ticks, which may carry Lyme disease," said IDPH Medical Director, Dr. Patricia Quinlisk.
The best way to prevent West Nile virus is to eliminate mosquito breeding areas and to use insect repellent when outdoors. Iowans should take the following steps to reduce the risk of exposure to West Nile virus:
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 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.
For more information on West Nile virus, visit www.idph.state.ia.us/CADE/DiseaseIndex.aspx?disease=West Nile Virus.