West Nile Virus discovered in Ames mosquitos


Kelby Wingert/Iowa State Daily

Using an insect repellant can help prevent West Nile Virus, spread by mosquitos.

Mia Wang

A mosquito trap at Emma McCarthy Lee Park has tested positive for West Nile Virus (WNV), indicating WNV infected mosquitoes are present in Ames and could transmit the virus to residents.

The city of Ames Parks and Recreation Department is conducting a multi-step program for mosquito control, according to one of their press releases.

Ryan Smith, assistant professor of entomology, said the best way to avoid WNV is to eliminate being exposed to mosquito bites.

“Mosquitoes typically acquire the virus from bird population,” Smith said. “They feed on birds and acquire the virus. And when they feed again, it provides them the opportunities to potentially transmit the virus to humans.”

According to Smith, the peak of the transmission always seems to be late August and early September, and it happens almost every year.

Smith also provided advice for residents to eliminate mosquitoes in their households.

“Try to remove all the still water from your yards; like flower pots, buckets and barrels, because that’s how they lay eggs,” Smith said. “And try to apply mosquito repellent or wear long sleeves when doing outdoor activities.”

The symptoms of WNV are usually not specific, but patients may experience low grade fever, headaches, fatigue, muscle aches and decreased appetite, Lee Wilkins, staff physician at Thielen Student Health Center, said.

“Most of the time, humans’ immune system will fight off WNV without any complications,” Wilkins said. “But it can be fatal in young children and elderlies.”

Wilkins suggests if students get an unexplained fever they should not hesitate to contact the health center to get their symptoms evaluated.

People do not need to panic even if they were bitten by mosquitos from areas known to have WNV, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health’s website.

“The chance of getting infected with the virus is low,” according to the Iowa Department of Health’s website. “Even in areas where the virus is circulating, very few mosquitoes are infected with the virus and not all mosquitoes can successfully transmit the virus.”