Iowa’s recorded its first fatality this year from an advancing microbe. State public-health department director Dr. Mary Mincer-Hansen told reporters today the disease that made its first appearance in the state last year has claimed its first Iowa victim of 2003. Mincer says an eastern Iowa woman in her 80s became ill while in South Dakota and after she was transferred to an Iowa hospital, died. She adds a caution for people to protect themselves. The state’s top epidemiologist, Dr. Patricia Quinlisk, also attended the news conference to explain it’s not certain the woman caught the disease in Iowa. repeat the warnings about using repellent and doing away with mosquito habitat to hold down the number of bugs that carry the virus. Both have West Nile activity, so she could have caught it in either state. the disease. West Nile’s confirmed in 51 Iowa counties now, but Quinlisk says it’s likely to be everywhere, whether or not it’s yet been confirmed. Usually August and September are peak months for mosquito-borne disease, so they expect more cases and want people to take precautions to hold down the number. Quinlisk says West Nile is not fatal in most cases. The elderly are most likely to have serious complications, but anyone can get it, at any age. Last year Iowa had 54 cases and two deaths from West Nile. So far this year we’ve confirmed just three cases and this is the first death from the disease.