The Iowa Department of Public Health says it has confirmed the first case of the West Nile virus in the state. Deputy state epidemiologist, Ann Garvey, says the case was confirmed in western Iowa.
“It was in an adult male from Pottawattamie County and the patient is recovering,” Garvey says, “so we’d just like to use this opportunity to make sure we’re encouraging people to still protect themselves from mosquito bites. We know that the mosquitoes will still be active in Iowa until the first frost.”
West Nile first showed up in the state in 2002 and with 52 cases. It peaked in 2003 with 147 cases and six deaths, but Dr. Garvey says it hasn’t gone away. Garvey says the disease is established in the state and they think they will have cases every year, so people need to continue taking precautions to protect themselves.
Garvey says the best way to protect yourself if to protect against mosquito bites and dump out standing water sources where the carrier mosquitoes will breed. The state saw eight confirmed cases last year, including two deaths. Garvey says most of the cases go unconfirmed.
Garvey says people usually become ill within two weeks of being bitten, but about 80-percent of those infected won’t have any symptoms. Others will have symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches and vomiting, and one in 150 will have severe symptoms such as meningitis and encephalitis.
Garvey says people over the age of 50 are more susceptible to the severe symptoms. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says there were 1,021 total human cases of West Nile virus in the U.S. in 2010 and that included 57 deaths.
For more information about West Nile virus, visit the Iowa Department of Public Health’s website.