The Iowa Department of Public Health has confirmed the first case of West Nile virus in the state this year. Deputy state epidemiologist, Ann Garvey, says the person lives in far northwest Iowa.
“Our first case was in a Lyon County resident, an older female adult,” Garvey says. “And although we’ve seen lower mosquito activity this year than what we’ve seen in recent years, we just want to remind folks that their is still a virus circulating out there, so it is important that we take steps to protect ourselves.”
The virus is spread by mosquitoes, and one of the positives of drier weather has been fewer mosquitoes. “In general the mosquitoes like the hot, dry conditions, but they also need some precipitation because they need that stagnant water to breed. And we just haven’t had much precipitation this year, as we all know, which is likely why we’re seeing lower activity this summer,” Garvey explains.
While the mosquito population is down, they have not gone away altogether, and Dr. Garvey says that could be a problem. “Because we haven’t had as much of activity, people might be a little more reluctant to wear that mosquito protection, use that insect repellent. So it’s important that people remember that we do have West Nile activity every year in our state,” Garvey says.
“We do anticipate that we will probably get additional case reports in the coming months. And so, we just need to remember that we do need to wear that insect repellent and take those precautions.” The precautions are especially important between the dawn and dusk hours when mosquitoes are most active.
Most people who contract the West Nile Virus will not notice it, but the disease can be deadly. There were nine human cases of West Nile virus in Iowa, and two deaths in 2011. For more information about West Nile virus, visit the Iowa Department of Public Health’s website at: www.idph.state.ia.us.