West Nile Virus is carried by Mosquitoes

DES MOINES — The first confirmed case of West Nile virus in a human in Iowa was in Audubon County. Iowa Public Health Department officials announced Friday that the victim was a man living in Audubon County, between the ages of 61 and 80, and he has recovered.

West Nile Virus is transmitted by mosquitoes, and those infected with WNV may not experience any signs or symptoms, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health website. Some will experience minor symptoms, like fever and mild headache, but others can develop a life threatening illness, including inflammation of the brain.

Last year, 104 Iowans were diagnosed with WNV, and nine died.

IPDH Medical Director Dr. Caitlin Pedati said there is a risk for WNV infection until the state’s first hard frost.

Those experiencing severe illness, including severe headaches, disorientation or sudden weakness should obtain medical attention immediately.

How To Protect Yourself From West Nile

• Use insect repellents containing DEET, permethrin, picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus; they have shown to be effective against mosquitoes. Permethrin repellants should be applied to clothing only and should not be used on the skin. Products containing up to 30 percent DEET have been shown to be the most effective and are safe for adults, including pregnant women and children over 2 months of age. DEET should be applied sparingly only to exposed skin and should not be used underneath clothing. Oil of lemon eucalyptus products should not be used on children under 3 years old.

• Wear light colored, long-sleeved shirts and long pants whenever you are outdoors for long periods of time or when mosquitoes are most active. Also, make sure doors and windows have tight fitting screens. Repair or replace screens that have holes or tears.

• Eliminate mosquito-breeding sites (they breed by laying eggs in standing water) by removing sources of standing water in outdoor areas where you work or play. Specific activities include the following: Turning over or removing items where rainwater can collect, such as ceramic pots, toys, buckets, tires, wading pools, and tarps covering firewood and boats; Changing water in birdbaths and pet bowls every 3-4 days; Making sure roof gutters are clean and in good repair; Repairing leaky outdoor faucets, air conditioners, and hoses; and stocking ornamental ponds with mosquito dunks or fish that eat mosquito larvae.