The number of West Nile virus cases reported in Iowa this year is at the lowest level since the disease first arrived in the state. West Nile was first spotted in 2002 in Iowa with 52 human cases that year, peaking the following year with 147 cases. Last year, there were just five cases and so far this year, only three West Nile cases are reported, one each in Clayton, Pottawattamie and Montgomery counties.
State public health veterinarian Dr. Ann Garvey says Iowans shouldn’t let their guard down. “We don’t see the peak of our West Nile activity until late in the summer and early fall and so we’re right in that time right now,” Dr. Garvey says. She adds, West Nile is still a real threat in Iowa for what will likely be several weeks.
“We will still have mosquitoes until we see the first frost and they should still take precautions to protect themselves when they’re outside,” Garvey says. Until then, Iowans should continue to wear insect repellant when outdoors, especially at dawn and dusk, and eliminate standing water where mosquitoes might breed. While Iowa has seen decreasing numbers of West Nile virus cases since 2003, Garvey says it can still be a serious, life-threatening affliction and people shouldn’t go outside unprotected.
“Last year, we had five cases and that was down from previous years, but again, our surveillance is showing that we do have activity,” Garvey says. “We test mosquitoes and we do some surveillance with chickens and so we do know that there is activity.”
For more visit the IDPH’s West Nile website.