Linn County Reports First West Nile Virus Case

By Cindy Hadish, Reporter

West Nile Mosquito

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By Kara Kelly

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – Linn County is one of five Iowa counties to record this season's first cases of the mosquito-borne West Nile virus, but health officials say the greater risk this year could be from ticks.

All five of the patients in Linn, Grundy, Lyon, Page and Plymouth counties have recovered, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.

The department’s medical director, Dr. Patricia Quinlisk, notes that Iowa’s drought may have led to fewer mosquitoes in the state, but the cases illustrate that West Nile virus is still circulating.

Quinlisk also emphasized that the health department urges the use of insect repellent with DEET to protect against mosquitoes and also against ticks, which may carry Lyme disease.

West Nile virus reports so far have been consistent with recent years, but Lyme disease reports have increased, with 113 cases reported so far this year. Last year, 100 cases of Lyme disease were confirmed in Iowa.

In 2011, Iowa recorded nine cases of West Nile virus; two people died from the disease. Two deaths also were reported in 2010.

West Nile peaked in Iowa in 2003, with 147 cases. Six people died that year.

The health department notes that some people infected with West Nile virus may experience minor symptoms, such as fever and a mild headache. Others can develop a life-threatening illness that includes inflammation of the brain.

Some, but not all, patients with Lyme disease may develop a “bull’s eye” rash at the site of the tick bite, with a red center and a red ring surrounding a clear area. Other symptoms of Lyme disease include eye infections; paralysis of facial muscles; headache; fatigue and muscle and joint pain.

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