Recent heavy rains and flooding in the area appear to be a sign of an increased number of mosquitoes this summer.
To combat this problem, the City of Emmetsburg has begun spraying for mosquitoes twice a week, according to Public Properties Director Bill Dickey.
However, even with such precautions, a threat does remain from mosquitoes in the form of West Nile Virus.
The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced on Tuesday that the first confirmed human case of West Nile virus in Iowa this year has been diagnosed in an adult male (18 to 40 years of age) from Clay County. After being diagnosed, the victim is recovering.
"This West Nile case should serve as notice that the virus is out there and Iowans should take precautions," said IDPH Medical Director, Dr. Patricia Quinlisk.
West Nile virus is transmitted through mosquitoes. The best way to prevent the virus is to eliminate mosquito breeding areas and to use insect repellent when outdoors.
Iowans should take the following steps to reduce the risk of exposure to West Nile virus:
Use insect repellent with DEET, picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Always read the repellent label and consult with a health care provider if you have questions when using these types of products for children. For example, DEET should not be used on infants less than 2 months old and oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under 3 years old.
Avoid outdoor activities at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
Wear long-sleeved shirts, pants, shoes, and socks whenever possible outdoors.
Eliminate standing water around the home because that's where mosquitoes lay eggs. Empty water from buckets, cans, pool covers and pet water dishes. Change water in bird baths every three to four days.
The current crop of 'flood' mosquitoes rarely carry the West Nile virus; therefore, heavy rain and flooding don't necessary result in increased West Nile virus cases. Mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus tend to lay eggs in stagnant water. This is why it's important to eliminate standing water. If flood waters pool and become stagnant in ditches or other recesses, it is possible West Nile virus-carrying mosquitoes could breed there as well. It is when flood water lies stagnant for several weeks the threat of mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus increases.
For more information, contact Community Health Services at the Palo Alto County Health Systems in Emmetsburg, at 712-852-5419.