IDPH reports first case of West Nile virus this season, first-ever case of Heartland virus in Iowa

Iowa News

File – In this Aug. 26, 2019, file photo, Salt Lake City Mosquito Abatement District biologist Nadja Reissen examines a mosquito in Salt Lake City. The potentially fatal West Nile Virus is popping up more around the U.S. Southwest following a rainier winter. There are a record number of cases in Maricopa County and nine deaths for the entire state of Arizona so far this year. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

DES MOINES, Iowa (KCAU) – The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) has announced it has received the first reported case of neuroinvasive West Nile virus this season.

The case was confirmed by the State Hygienic Laboratory and is an adult between the ages of 18 and 40 who’s from Polk County.

Health officials said about 20% of people infected with the West Nile virus will have mild to moderate symptoms such as body aches, fever, headache, and vomiting.

Less than 1% of the individuals infected become seriously ill, and rarely, someone dies.

In addition, IDPH has received its first-ever report of Heartland virus. The case is an older adult between the ages of 61 and 80 in Appanoose County.

Health officials reported the virus is a Phlebovirus that’s thought to be transmitted by the Lone Star tick and was first discovered in 2009 in Missouri.

Since then, the cases have expanded across the Midwestern and southern United States.

The symptoms for the Heartland virus include anorexia, diarrhea, fatigue, fever, nausea, and treatment is supportive care.

“These reports are an important reminder that as Iowans take advantage of outdoor activities, they should take precautions to prevent tick and mosquito bites,” said Dr. Ann Garvey, IDPH Deputy State Epidemiologist, and Public Health Veterinarian.

Health officials said the best way to prevent tick and mosquito-borne illnesses, like West Nile and Heartland viruses is to:

  • 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.
  • Stay on trails when walking or hiking and avoid high grass.
  • After each day spent in tick-infested areas, check yourself, your children, and your pets for ticks. Promptly remove any attached tick. 

For more information about the West Nile virus, visit IDPH’s website.

For more information on the Heartland virus, click here.

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