The Iowa Department of Public Health is reporting the first Iowa death this year from the West Nile virus. Deputy State Epidemiologist Ann Garvey says the victim was a woman.
She says the woman was a middle-aged adult from southwestern Iowa, and is a reminder we are in the heart of West Nile season. Doctor Garvey says they have not had many confirmed cases of the mosquito-borne disease.
“We are down overall from the number of cases that were reported last year. We’ve had seven cases reported cases this– last year we had over 35,” Garvey says. “So again, we are down in numbers, but we are just entering that prime season and so we expect that were are going to get continued reports in the coming weeks.” There was one death attributed to West Nile last year.
Doctor Garvey says the best way to prevent getting West Nile to take precautions against mosquitoes. She says it’s easy to overlook them in this busy time of year. “I think that once school starts back up and we get into the fall type temperatures we tend to forget about wearing that mosquito repellent,”Garvey says. “So we want to remind all Iowans again that we are in the peak of West Nile season and we need to take those measures to prevent mosquito bites.”
When the cool fall evenings take over we also tend to forget about mosquitoes, but Garvey says cool fall nights aren’t protection against them. “Mosquitoes are really most active in 80-degree temperatures and above — but they do pretty well in the 70s and they do okay in the 6os. So again, it’s something we really need to keep in mind,” Garvey says. “We tend to think that mosquitoes are really most active up until our first hard frost.” She says you could get infected and not even know it.
“With West Nile Virus, over 80 percent of people who are infected with that virus won’t have any symptoms. Twenty percent will have more severe symptoms and one in 150 can have those really leife-threatening symptoms and complications. So really, many of us may’ve been infected with West Nile and not even realized it,”Garvey says.
She says you should use insect repellent with DEET, Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535. Always read the repellent label and consult with a health care provider if you have questions when using these types of products for children. For example, oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under three years of age and DEET should not be used on children less than two months of age. For more information you can go to the Iowa Department of Public Health’s website.