The Iowa Department of Public Health held a statewide roundtable discussion today via the Iowa Communications Network to talk about the West Nile Virus.The discussion involving “scientific experts” centered on the myths that’ve spread across the state faster than the disease itself. The latest concern is the potential for becoming infected with West Nile through a blood transfusion. Dr. Bruce Kloster of the Blood Center of Iowa says the transfusion risk is small nationwide and even more remote in Iowa. Kloster says the single human case of West Nile identified in Iowa thus far points out the small risk. He says Iowa isn’t like Louisiana, where they’ve had several human cases. Kloster says in Brooklyn, New York, they had a West Nile outbreak, but they’ve only had a few cases of West Nile out of 12-million blood donations. Another myth that’s been making the rounds since the advent of West Nile — putting up bat houses is viable defense against the disease. State veterinarian Russell Currier says the claims about the number of mosquitoes bats eat has taken on mythic proportions, as people believe the bats will eat up the virus carrying mosquitoes and make their homes safer. In reality, Currier says exposure to bats could infect you with rabies.He says five to ten percent of the bats tested at the state lab have rabies. Currier says the bat houses may keep bats out of your attic. But, he says bats won’t eat enough mosquitoes to make a dent in the number of bugs, and people shouldn’t get a false sense of security that bats will take care of the problem.
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