Northwest Iowa — With northwest Iowans expected to be spending extra time outdoors over this long Independence Day weekend, the Iowa Department of Public Health is reminding you to take insect repellent along with you to your picnics, concerts, celebrations and fireworks displays to protect against mosquito bites. West Nile virus is transmitted through mosquitoes.
IDPH Medical Director, Dr. Patricia Quinlisk says the Department’s surveillance has shown there are mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus currently in the Iowa. She says the best way to prevent the virus is to eliminate mosquito breeding areas and to use insect repellent when outdoors. Northwest Iowans should take the following steps to reduce the risk of exposure to West Nile virus, according to Quinlisk:
- 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.
Quinlisk says about 20 percent of people infected with West Nile virus will have mild to moderate symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches and vomiting. Less than one percent of people infected become seriously ill and rarely, someone dies.
Since West Nile first appeared in Iowa in 2002, it has been found in every county in the state, either in humans, horses, or birds. Since 2005, Iowa has had between five and 44 reported cases of West Nile virus each year.
For more information about West Nile virus, visit http://idph.iowa.gov/cade/disease-information/west-nile-virus.