Flood Waters and West Nile Virus
The Black Hawk County Health Department would like to remind residents and guests of Black Hawk County of the potential for increased mosquito activity due to the flood waters. This is normally the peak time of year for West Nile Virus activity in Iowa which can be compounded by recent floods. The type of mosquito which can spread West Nile Virus breeds in stagnant water.
"Standing water that remains due to flooding will provide a breeding ground for new mosquitoes, and could result in an increased health risk for mosquito-related viruses starting three or four weeks after the flood recedes. " - Dr. Nafissa Egbuonye, Director of Public Health for Black Hawk County
All residents, and especially those affected by the recent flood, are encouraged to empty any standing water after the flood waters recede. This may include areas besides the normal bird baths, pet bowls, old tires, and unused swimming or wading pools. Safely remove flood water deposited debris on and around your property. Early fall is a popular time to be outside and protecting yourself from insect bites is still as important as it was this summer.
According to the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) 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.
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.
So far this year, 15 cases of West Nile virus have been confirmed in Iowa. 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.