Iowa Reports First West Nile Death Of 2008

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
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The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) today announced the first death in Iowa this year associated with West Nile virus. An elderly man from western Iowa died in September. "This first death related to West Nile is tragic and reminds us to protect ourselves and our families from mosquitoes," said IDPH Medical Director, Dr. Patricia Quinlisk. "The number of Iowans infected with West Nile virus tends to increase in September and sometimes into October if the weather stays nice. Until the state's first hard frost; whether it's for work or play, being outside means there's a risk for West Nile virus."

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

* 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 3 years of age and DEET should not be used on children less than 2 months of age.

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

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

* 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.

This brings the number of Iowans diagnosed with the illness this summer to eight. Positive West Nile activity has been reported in 13 counties this year. Those counties are scattered across Iowa, meaning the virus is most likely present statewide.

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