West Nile Virus Found in Iowa

A dead crow found in Scott County has tested positive in preliminary tests for West Nile virus (WNV), marking the first time the virus has been identified in Iowa. Testing of the crow was conducted at the University of Iowa Hygienic Lab with the assistance of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Iowa State University.

"There have been no human cases of West Nile virus reported in Iowa and the risk to those living here is low," said Dr. Patricia Quinlisk, Iowa state epidemiologist. "However, people, especially those living in Eastern Iowa, should take extra precautions to protect themselves against mosquito bites." West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird. The illness is not spread person-to-person.

While this is the first time the virus has been detected in Iowa, it was expected. The virus first appeared in New York City in 1999 and it has progressed steadily westward since then, and was identified in Illinois last week.

Iowa's already established mosquito surveillance program was upgraded in 2000 to include screening for WNV. That program involves both the trapping and testing of mosquitoes, testing bird flocks around the state, and this year, testing of dead birds sent in from around the state.

For more information on West Nile virus in Iowa, visit the Iowa Department of Public Health's web site at http://www.idph.state.ia.us or the U of I Hygienic Lab at 319/335-4500.

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