State health officials say West Nile virus has killed a second Iowan this year — an eastern Iowa man in his 50s who died earlier this month. While one death is too many, Iowa Public Health Department spokesman Kevin Teale says the latest totals are encouraging. The numbers are down substantially, as Teale says six people died from the mosquito-borne illness in Iowa last year. Overall, 21 human cases are reported this year in Iowa compared to 147 cases last year. Teale says there are several reasons for the drop in the number of West Nile cases. People are paying more attention to the messages about using mosquito repellant and they’re also developing an immunity to the disease. In addition, West Nile is spread by birds that have been stung by mosquitoes and Teale says the Iowa bird population has been decimated by the virus, thus, there are far fewer birds around to spread it. He says it may be cold out, but there -is- still a risk from West Nile. A hard frost is needed to kill off the mosquito population and to end the spread for this year. For more information, call toll-free 866-WNV-IOWA or surf to “www.idph.state.ia.us”.
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