Two dead crows found last week in central Iowa’s Warren County tested positive for the West Nile virus, and state health officials say the virus is here in Iowa to stay. Dr. Patricia Quinlisk, the state epidemiologist, says West Nile will be found in Iowa “about this time of year, every year, from now on.” Quinlisk says many cities have mosquito-abatement programs, like spraying to kill mosquitoes, but not all the mosquitoes will be killed. Quinlisk says that’s why public health officials are asking Iowans to take personal responsibility and take steps to avoid being bitten by a mosquito. That means avoiding the outdoors during the dawn and dusk hours and using a repellent that contains DEET. Quinlisk says there’s no need to panic, because you can avoid getting the virus by taking precautions.Quinlisk says most people who contract the virus from the bite of a mosquito never show any symptoms. Those who do become ill will get a fever or a stiff neck and some may even suffer convulsions. Iowa Department of Public Health director Mary Mincer Hansen says 52 Iowans tested positive for the virus last year, and two died. Mincer Hansen says so far this year, no human or horse has tested positive for the disease, but she says Iowans should take appropriate steps to protect themselves. If you have questions, call 1-866-WNV-IOWA during regular business hours to talk with a state expert on West Nile. Last year, 12-hundred horses tested positive for West Nile. However, there’s a vaccine for horses now, and most horse owners have vaccinated their stock so state officials don’t expect many horses to contract the virus.
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