West Nile Virus Remains A Concern In Iowa

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Outdoor recreation is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. With biking and hiking trails crisscrossing the state, Iowans have many options for outdoor fitness, especially in the warmer months. The Iowa Dept. of Public Health (IDPH) reminds Iowans it's important to be aware of, and take precautions against outdoor-related health concerns like West Nile virus.

"The best way to prevent West Nile virus is to eliminate mosquito breeding areas and to use insect repellent when outdoors," said IDPH Public Health Veterinarian, Ann Garvey. "These two actions not only prevent transmission of West Nile virus from mosquitoes, but also help to reduce the nuisance of mosquitoes." 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 for 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.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were 1,356 total human cases of West Nile virus in the U.S. in 2008, including 44 deaths. Five cases were reported in Iowa, including one death. As of today, no cases of West Nile virus have been confirmed this year. Since West Nile first appeared in Iowa in 2002, it has been found in every county in Iowa, either in humans, horses, or birds.