Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 19, 2018

West Nile Virus found in Iowa

Washington, Mt. Pleasant Public Health officals say virus has yet to hit area
Aug 28, 2018
Photo by: AP Photo/Mark Duncan Although West Nile Virus has been confirmed in the state of Iowa, local public health representatives say nothing has been reported in southeast Iowa.

By Gretchen Teske, The JOURNAL


According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), nine cases, including one death, of West Nile virus have been found in Iowa as of Aug. 21.

Iowa State University entomologist Ryan Smith says this is not a new thing. “West Nile is one of those things that’s always going to be in Iowa,” he said. “There could be a variation from year to year, but it’s always a constant danger to some extent.”

Smith says the virus originated in Africa and first came to the U.S. in 1999. The first case in Iowa was in 2001 and the first human case in 2002. “It’s been around ever since,” he said. West Nile is carried by mosquitoes that get the virus from feasting on infected birds. Birds have become resistant to the virus, as have mosquitoes. Smith said the virus is not in the mosquito long enough to do damage which is why only humans and animals get affected. He described human contact with the virus as a “dead end,” saying humans cannot give the virus to other humans through contact. According to the CDC the exeption to the rule is mothers who are pregnant or nursing.

Symptoms for West Nile can include fatigue, headaches, muscle aches and pain. Smith says the symptoms can sometimes be mistaken for those associated with the flu, explaining why only 10 percent of cases are reported. Of those 10 percent reported, Smith says less than one percent are actually infected. Becaues it is a virus, there are no visual symptoms such as swelling at the infected spot or rash.

The best way to prevent West Nile is to cover and use repellant with deet. He warns people to be skeptical of all-natural sources as they may not be as rigourously tested as others. He says eliminating standing water is also a way to prevent as mosquitoes tend to breed over bodies of water.

Henry County Public Health Director Shelly Van Dorin says the county specifically does not have a way of tracking, but Louisa and Jefferson counties do and the three work closely together. She said they have designated spots for “surveillance mosquitoes,” where public health will pick up mosquito traps and test them for the virus. “We work closely with the Iowa Department of Public Health and if there were problems we would be notified,” she said.

Danielle Petit-Majewski from the Washington County Department of Public Health said the state has chosen 17 counties for surveillance mosquitoes, most of which are in the southern part of the state because mosquitoes prefer climates where it is hot and humid. However, Washington County has not seen a West Nile related death for them to be a priority county where mosquitoes are tracked. “We are always working with other counties,” she said. “We do not have a formal way to track because we have never had an issue.”

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