The Iowa Department of Public Health says an elderly man from Central Iowa died in late August from the West Nile virus. State Epidemiologist Patricia Quinlisk says this case of the mosquito-borne disease shows the need to continue taking it seriously. She says the first year we had low numbers and then the numbers went up and very gradually started to go down.
Quinlisk says we’ve had 12 human cases thus far this year, but late summer and early fall are the peak times for the disease. West Nile first became a big concern in Iowa in 2002. There were two deaths in 2002, six in 2005, two in ’04 and ’05, and none last year. Quinlisk says the threat doesn’t go away completely until there’s a hard frost.
Quinlisk says just because it’s the fall, doesn’t mean the disease has gone away, and you still need to take precautions against mosquito bites. Some people are more susceptible to the disease than others. Quinlisk says the elderly are more susceptible to the disease, but she says everyone needs to take precautions. The recent wet weather has raised the risk of West Nile.
Quinlisk says the mosquito traps from the Iowa State University entomology department show an increase in the type of mosquitoes that carry the West Nile virus and St. Louis encephalitis, even though the nuisance mosquito numbers have gone down. Quinlisk says to avoid getting bitten, use insect repellent with DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus; avoid outdoor activities at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active; wear long-sleeved shirts, pants, shoes, and socks whenever possible outdoors; and eliminate standing water around the home where mosquitoes lay eggs. Empty water from buckets, cans, pool covers and pet water dishes.
For more information about West Nile virus go to the Department of Public Health website .