Mosquito bites are causing more than a common scratch.Late this summer, several people around Siouxland tested positive for the West Nile Virus and one patient died from the mosquito-born illness.
Most cases end with common symptoms like a fever or headache, but some cases become more severe. "It can be very disabling. There is no specific treatment besides supportive care and then rehabilitation and some people actually have permanent neurological damage," said physician Dr. Greg Galloway, who is the Vice Chair of Infection Control Epidemiology Committee at Mercy. Health officials say the appearance of the West Nile Virus is not totally uncommon, since late summer and fall are the seasons where it begins. Still, these new cases are being monitored and have caused some alert. "It does seem like we're having a few more cases, but at the same time, it started to creep up a little bit last year and it seems like it's creeping up a little bit this year," said Tyler Brock, deputy director of Siouxland District Health. The recent clustering of these cases is unusual, raising concerns for health officials.
They're cautioning people not to take the cooler days as an invitation for less protection and prevention. "You need to wear sunscreen or if you're going to be outside for an extended period of times cover your skin with clothing and put on appropriate repellent," said Galloway. People that are hypertensive,immunosuppressed, diabetic and over the age 70 are more susceptible to complications and should be vigilant.
Mosquitoes will be around until we get some colder weather, so until then take the appropriate precautions before heading outside.
The neuroinvasive disease is not spread person-to person.
So far more than 20 people have contracted the virus in Iowa.BEdme@siouxlandnews.comfacebook.com/beairshelle.edme OR twitter.com/BeairshelleKMEG