MASON CITY, Iowa – Mercy Medical Center – North Iowa says it is treating a confirmed case of West Nile Virus.
Details on who was infected or when have not been released. The Iowa Department of Public Health says West Nile is spread by mosquitoes and can produce symptoms ranging from fever and mild headache to life-threatening inflammation of the brain.
Brian Hanft is the environmental health services manager for Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health. With the news of the first case in the area, Hanft says it's something that should not be cause for alarm.
"This is a common occurrence. This is an annual thing, it happens every single year, and brings us to really...there's no heightened sense of worry for the public health professionals across the state, it's common."
Hanft adds that there is another simple way the public can reduce their risk and avoid coming in contact with misquitoes that may contain the virus, in addition to wearing long sleeved shirts and long pants, as well as spraying misquito repellent that contains deet.
"Dump out bird baths, dump out buckets of water, anything that holds water. Anything the size of a bottle cap can allow misquitoes to breed, especially culex misquitos. Look for anything that holds water and change that water out once a week or every four days."
The virus was first identified in Iowa in a dead crow in 2001 and cases of human infection have been reported every year since 2002, though the number of them has fluctuated year by year.
On August 3, the Iowa Public Health Department reported the state’s first death from West Nile in 2018 was an 81-year-old man who lived in central Iowa. 12 Iowans were diagnosed with the virus in 2017 and two died.