West Nile Virus season off to a slow start in the Heartland

Several communities in Texas and Illinois are dealing with an outbreak of West Nile Virus. In fact, many cities around the Dallas/Fort Worth area have hired aircraft to spray a chemical to kill mosquitoes, the carrier of the virus.

As KTVO find out on Wednesday, the virus can spread quickly, and many people may not even know they have contracted it.

â??Once you get it, it can create symptoms such as headache, fatigue and fever,â?? said Lynelle Diers, Executive Director of Wapello County Public Health.

It is that time of the year again; public health officials are on the lookout for the West Nile Virus.

â??Most of the time, they indicated (health officials), that individuals actually have no symptoms if they are infected by a mosquito,â?? Diers said.

Experts believe that the virus originated in Uganda, a country in east Africa. They believe that the virus first came to the United State in 1999.

One place mosquitoes tend to come together is in standing water, such as a pond or lake. They happen to congregate in the early morning hours and evening hours. If you want to protect yourself, experts say you should wear lots of clothing.

â??If you do need to go outside, because we do know with football and baseball games and all of those activities are in the evening hours, make sure you have your body covered in long pants, socks and shoes. Also, wear long sleeve shirts that are lightly colored,â?? Diers said.

The good news is that health officials in southeast Iowa have not been seeing many cases of West Nile this year.

â??This year, we have not been seeing an abundance of mosquitoes, which is related to our drought conditions, since mosquitoes thrive in standing water,â?? Diers said.

If something were to happen, the county says it is prepared.

â??We have plans for when an epidemic does occur in Wapello County, and depending on the number of cases we have, that is how we would dictate if it should be classified as an epidemic or not,â?? Diers said.

The West Nile virus season in Iowa usually ends in October or late fall.

CDC website devoted to educating the public on the West Nile Virus can be viewed here.

Mayo Clinic website devoted to educating the public on the West Nile Virus can be viewed here.