Ryan Smith. (ISU photo)

A couple of cities in central Iowa have found West Nile-infected mosquitoes in their monitoring traps.

Iowa State University entomologist, Ryan Smith, says August and September are generally the peak months for the disease.
“West Nile virus is something that we refer to as being endemic, that means that we are going to see West Nile virus activity and potentially human cases every year,” Smith says. “Since it’s been introduced that that may vary from year to year and the intensity and or how many cases that we ultimately end up with.”

Ames and Des Moines announced they have found mosquitoes with West Nile. Smith does surveillance in seven counties and has found West Nile in three of them. He says mosquito populations are influenced by rainfall, and the drought that has expanded in the state has made an impact.

“The numbers are maybe a little bit lower. Things are kind of on the quiet side right now. But when we look at the season as a whole, there’s actually been a pretty surprising number of mosquitoes kind of considering that for most of the year that it has been pretty much under drought-like conditions,” he says.

Smith says all the other things happening can sometimes overshadow West Nile. “It’s easy to kind of forget about, and if anything, I think these reports kind of serve as an additional reminder of it. West Nile is not something… most of the people are going to have very mild symptoms and won’t even know that they have it. But for those people who do develop a more severe infection, it could even be fatal,” Smith says.

Smith says it’s a reminder to take precautions against getting bitten if you are outdoors and mosquitoes are present. He says there isn’t anything else on the radar right now when it comes to mosquitoes. “At least right now, it is just our West Nile, our numbers of mosquitoes aren’t that high,” he says. Smith says you should still take precautions by wearing insect repellant, and dumping out any standing water where mosquitoes might breed.