The Iowa Department of Public Health is confirming the first human case of West Nile virus in the state this year.

“The person who become ill is a middle-aged male in Linn County,” State Medical Director Doctor Patricia Quinlisk says. “Fortunately, he is recovering. We do know that there are some people who can become very sick with this and unfortunately in the past we have had some deaths. So, we want everybody to take precautions, especially since we’re going into a holiday weekend.”

West Nile is transmitted through mosquito bites. The disease was first detected in Iowa in 2002. Last year, there were 31 confirmed human cases in the state. “One thing we know is this disease is influenced by weather and certainly influenced by how many mosquitoes are out there and how many of them are biting us,” Quinlisk says.

Symptoms of West Nile include fever, headaches, body aches, and vomiting. Quinlisk says the best way to prevent the virus is to eliminate mosquito breeding areas and to use insect repellent when outdoors.

(from Iowa Department of Public Health press release)

Iowans should take the following steps to reduce the risk of exposure to West Nile virus:

• Use insect repellent with DEET, picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Always read the repellent label and consult with a health care provider if you have questions when using these types of products on children. For example, DEET should not be used on infants less than 2 months old and oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under 3 years old.

• Avoid outdoor activities at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.

• Wear long-sleeved shirts, pants, shoes, and socks whenever possible outdoors.

• Eliminate standing water around the home because that’s where mosquitoes lay eggs. Empty water from buckets, cans, pool covers and pet water dishes. Change water in bird baths every three to four days.