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What you need to know about West Nile Virus

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SIOUX CITY (KTIV) -- Iowa health experts reported the season's first case of the mosquito-borne West Nile virus this week.

The infected person is an adult man from Polk County and he has since recovered. Health officials say he likely won't be the last case this year.

According to state records, 104 Iowans were diagnosed with the West Nile virus last year and nine died.

Dr. Matthew Humpal is with MercyOne South Sioux City Family Medicine. He said West Nile is most commonly spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito.

Cases occur during mosquito season, which starts in the summer and continues through fall.

Dr. Humpal said only about 20-40% of those who get the virus have symptoms and a majority won't even know they have it.

He said it is important to protect yourself because some people experience severe symptoms.

"From what I have read about 1 in 200 people that get West Nile Virus can have some fairly severe symptoms and that can be things like meningitis or encephalitis which are like central nervous system infections, like infections of the brain. So protecting yourself in that regard is important," said Dr. Humpal.

Currently, there are no vaccines to prevent or medications to treat the West Nile virus. Those that experience symptoms may notice things like headaches, fatigue, some body aches, and sometimes fever.

You can reduce your risk of West Nile Virus by using insect repellent and wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants to prevent mosquito bites.

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Angela Rogers

Assistant News Director

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