West Nile precautions still needed

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The first confirmed human case of West Nile virus in 2012 is a reminder about the importance of trying to prevent the disease.

The Iowa Department of Public Health Monday announced a female older adult, between the ages of 61 and 80 years of age, from Lyon County is recovering from West Nile.

The extreme drought conditions in Iowa have dramatically reduced the mosquito population, according to Dr. Patricia Quinlisk, Iowa Department of Public Health medical director.

The West Nile case is a reminder that the virus is still out there and Iowans should take precautions, Quinlisk noted.

The Iowa Department of Public Health offers some information to avoid the virus.

West Nile virus is transmitted through mosquitoes. The best way to prevent the virus is to eliminate mosquito breeding areas and to use insect repellent when outdoors.

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

The measures include the use of insect repellent with DEET, picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus.

Adults should always read the repellent label and consult with a health care provider about questions when these types of products are used 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.

To prevent exposure to mosquitos, people should avoid outdoor activities at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.

Clothing to be worn outdoors should include long-sleeved shirts, pants, shoes, and socks, whenever possible.

The department's recommendations also include eliminating standing water around the home. The water is where mosquitoes lay eggs.

People should empty water from buckets, cans, pool covers and pet water dishes.

Water in bird baths should be changed every three to four days.

Approximately 20 percent of people 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.