The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that the West Nile virus has been discovered in 36 states.
The virus, most commonly transmitted to humans via a mosquito bite, has been found in many states, including New York, Texas, and California.
“Mosquito-borne diseases overall are increasing,” CDC spokeswoman Kate Fowley told The Weather Channel on Aug. 1. “Of the mosquito-borne diseases, West Nile virus is the most common one in the continental United States.”
The CDC issued its latest update on West Nile on July 24, saying that there have been “39 cases of West Nile virus disease in people [that have] been reported.”
Meanwhile, Iowa health officials said on Aug. 3 that a woman in her 80s died from West Nile, although that wasn’t reflected in the CDC’s last report.
“West Nile virus is in Iowa,” said the Iowa Department of Public Health’s Dr. Ann Garvey in a statement. “This death related to West Nile is tragic and reminds us to protect ourselves and our families from mosquitoes. Until the state’s first hard frost, whether it’s for work or play, being outside means there’s a risk for West Nile virus.”
How to Prevent West Nile
The agency says that cases of West Nile virus “occur during mosquito season, which starts in the summer and continues through fall.”
It adds that there “are no vaccines to prevent or medications” to treat the virus, but most infected people don’t have symptoms. But “about 1 in 5 people who are infected develop a fever and other symptoms,” the agency said. “About 1 out of 150 infected people develop a serious, sometimes fatal, illness.”
The CDC recommends people use insect repellant and wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants to prevent getting bitten by mosquitoes.
The Iowa Department of Public Health added that people should avoid outdoor activities at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active. “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,” officials said.