The Iowa Department of Public Health has announced that they have confirmed the first human cases of the West Nile Virus in Iowa.

A recent announcement by the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) of the first two confirmed cases of West Nile Virus in Iowa this season should serve as a reminder to residents of Black Hawk County to continue being diligent about protecting themselves from mosquito bites.

“This time of year is when we see the bulk of West Nile Virus cases develop. Although Zika virus has been in the news, Iowans should be more concerned with contracting West Nile Virus locally and should take extra precautions to protect themselves from mosquito bites until the first frost. West Nile Virus can be deadly and the mosquitoes which carry this virus are known to be present in Iowa,” states Tom O’Rourke, Interim Director of the Black Hawk County Health Department.

There is no evidence, the species of mosquito that carry the Zika Virus are present in our state currently, but that doesn’t mean Black Hawk County residents should let their guard down. There are many other diseases carried by mosquitoes and ticks which are present in Iowa and should be cause for concern. We just want the public to be aware and take precaution.

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.

Approximately 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 Iowa, either in humans, horses, or birds. In 2015, 14 cases of West Nile virus were reported to IDPH. The last death caused by West Nile virus was in 2010, and there were two deaths that year. For more information about West Nile virus, visit idph.iowa.gov/cade/disease-information/west-nile-virus.