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West Nile is back, how to prevent it

WATERLOO, Iowa (KWWL) — Temperatures are warming up and there is a lot of standing water, meaning mosquitoes will be soon swarming.

Last week, Illinois reported the first confirmed mosquito carrying the disease in the state in DuPage County, just west of Chicago. So far, Iowa hasn’t had any confirmed mosquitoes.

Dr. Claudia Vicetti is a pediatric infectious disease specialist at UnityPoint Health and said more times than not, you’ll never even know you’ve caught West Nile. However, others may not be so lucky.

“You can have fever, diarrhea, not feeling well kind of like you came down with the flu and not even know you have it. A small percentage, about 10%, of people that contract the virus can get a neurological disease,” she said.

Those neurological diseases could include the swelling of the brain and spinal cord. She said the wet spring isn’t helping.

“Buckets, birdbaths or anywhere where water can collect, that’s where mosquitoes like to lay their eggs,” Dr. Vicetti said.

Besides cleaning up standing water, she said keeping covered and well sprayed with bug repellent can keep the mosquitoes at bay.

“The DEET, the oil of lemon and eucalyptus. There’s other ones that are safe and we know are effective against mosquito bites,” she said.

She said West Nile comes from birds. A mosquito will bite an infected bird and then pass it along to a human. Once someone has it, it isn’t contagious as there is no way to pass it along to someone else.

Iowa had one of it’s worst years for the disease last year with more than 70 cases. Three of those were fatal.

West Nile first appeared in the United States in 1999 and in Iowa in 2002.

So far, there have been no mosquitoes test positive in Iowa this year.

Collin Dorsey

Weekend Anchor

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