The Iowa Department of Public Health has confirmed the first human case of West Nile Virus in the state — and the victim has died. Department Director Mary Mincer-Hansen made the announcement today.She says the death was in a southwest Iowa man in his 60’s, marking a return to Iowa of the virus that killed six Iowans last year and sickened at least 141 others. Doctor Hansen says this only second West Nile death in the United States — the first was in Arizona. She says there’s been very little West Nile activity in Iowa thus far. She says as of today, no other horses or humans in Iowa have been confirmed with the virus. The virus has been confirmed in birds in eight counties. State Epidemiologist Patricia Quinlisk says they can’t tell which county the victim was from due to confidentiality laws — but could say this about him. She says he had extensive time out-of-doors so they assume it was one of those times he was outside that he got bitten by a mosquito. With just one death and no other reported cases, Doctor Quinlisk was asked about the potential risk for other Iowans.She says “I think it’s a big enough deal for people to take precautions.” She says it may be not a huge threat when you look at the numbers, but she says the bottom line is that the protection against the risk is pretty easy. Quinlisk says you should protect yourself any time when you’ll be outside and the potential target of mosquitoes. She says the best way to protect yourself is to cover your skin with clothing and use a repellent with “DEET” in it on the exposed areas of skin. She says you should use the lowest concentration of “DEET” possible, as she says the concentration is how long it will last, not how well the repellent will work. The national Centers for Disease Control says a total of 78 other cases of West Nile Virus have been confirmed nationwide.
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