West Nile virus still a concern for people and horses in Iowa - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

West Nile virus still a concern for people and horses in Iowa

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DES MOINES (KWWL) -

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and Iowa Department of Public Health say West Nile virus remains a concern in the state as more than 20 horses and 19 people have contracted the illness.

Last year, only one horse and nine people got the virus.  Two people did die from the virus in 2011.  So far, no one in Iowa has died from the virus this year.

The IDPH reminds people that mosquitoes, which can carry the virus, remain active until a hard freeze occurs.

"Horse owners are encouraged to make sure they get their animals vaccinated and keep the vaccination up-to-date," said Bill Northey, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture, in a written statement. "The cases we are seeing are in horses that have not been vaccinated or are not current on their vaccinations, so we are encouraging owners to talk to their veterinarian and make sure their animals are protected."

While humans can't catch the virus from an animal, it shows higher activity among mosquitoes carrying the virus.

"The number of Iowans infected with West Nile virus tends to increase in September and sometimes into October if the weather stays nice," said IDPH Medical Director, Dr. Patricia Quinlisk in a written statement. "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."

For more information on West Nile virus, a surveillance map of activity and ways to reduce your risk of exposure, visit www.idph.state.ia.us/Cade/DiseaseIndex.aspx?disease=WestNileVirus    

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