More cases of West Nile being reported in Iowa

By Chelsea Keenan, The Gazette

DES MOINES — Seven cases of West Nile virus have been confirmed in Iowa this summer since the first case was found in July, public health officials said Thursday.

The Iowa Department of Public Health said cases have been confirmed in Buchanan, Clay, Crawford, Monona, Plymouth, Sioux and Woodbury counties. Additional cases are being investigated in Sac and Shelby counties.

Officials said that two people were hospitalized but are now recovering at home.

West Nile, which is transmitted through mosquitoes, causes flu-like symptoms, including fever, headache, body aches and vomiting. Less than one percent of people infected will develop a neurological illness, including swelling of the brain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 10 percent of people who develop a neurological infection will die.

“We are now seeing either confirmed human cases, animal cases, or positive mosquito pools across a large area of the state,” said Dr. Patricia Quinlisk, IDPH medical director.

But Quinlisk went on to say this is not unexpected “as late summer and autumn are the times when mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus are most likely to be circulating.”

Mosquito pools in Story, Polk and Woodbury counties have tested positive for the virus. Mosquito pools are a method researchers use to see if insects in an area are carrying the virus.

Since West Nile arrived in the United States in 1999, more than 39,000 people have contracted the disease and more than 1,600 have died, according to the CDC. The virus first appeared in Iowa in 2002 and there were 44 reported cases in 2013, the state health department said.

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