One of Iowa’s leading experts on the West Nile virus wants to swat a couple of rumors about the pesky illness before the season arrives. The mosquito-borne virus did -not- get wiped out by the cold Iowa winter, according to Doctor Wayne Rowley, an entomologist at Iowa State University. He says West Nile will likely be just as severe as it was last year when it was reported in all 99 Iowa counties. Rowley says it’s -not- just animals that are at risk, and plenty of Iowans learned that lesson in 2002. He says there were 55 reported cases of West Nile encephalitis in humans statewide last year, and two human deaths. More than a thousand Iowa horses were also killed by the virus. Rowley says Iowans can take action now to minimize mosquito populations around their homes. Remove items from their yards that would contain and hold water as they could be used as new homes for the flying menaces. Doctor Rowley says in just a few weeks, about mid-April, the mosquitoes will start emerging, laying eggs and multiplying by the millions across Iowa. He says we’ll again need to start slathering on repellents containing the chemical “Deet” and likely will for good.
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