While the rain is helping Iowa farmers’ crops, it’s also helping a crop of mosquitoes — which is being closely watched in eastern Iowa. The Linn County Health Department and the Indian Creek Nature Center in Cedar Rapids have opened an encephalitis monitoring station. That potentially fatal disease is spread by mosquitoes and the insects transmit the disease from birds to humans. Nature Center director Rich Patterson says the monitoring station is an old corncrib housing 20 or so chickens.Those birds will have their blood checked for encephalitis every other week while a mosquito trap is being checked every day. Patterson says if the disease is found in the birds’ blood, a health department warning will be issued.In humans, the disease causes a potentially-killer inflammation of the brain. Interest in the disease rose last year with an outbreak of Nile encephalitis in New York City but the disease hasn’t yet made it to Iowa.
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