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Branstad and health department say threat of Zika virus transmission threat is low; mosquitoes that carry the virus don’t live in Iowa


This news story was published on June 7, 2016.
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Mosquito  (Photo previously submitted to NIT, courtesy of Lyric Bartholomay.)

Mosquito
(Photo previously submitted to NIT, courtesy of Lyric Bartholomay.)

DES MOINES – At the Branstad Administration’s weekly press conference Monday, Gov. Terry Branstad and the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) urged Iowans to remember to protect themselves against mosquito bites this summer, not because of a Zika virus threat, but because of the much more likely consequence of West Nile virus. IDPH Director Gerd Clabaugh and IDPH Deputy State Epidemiologist, Dr. Ann Garvey, joined Governor Branstad today at his weekly press conference to discuss the realistic threat of Zika virus to Iowans.

“The greatest risk to Iowans for Zika virus is when they travel to areas of the world where Zika transmission is ongoing – for example, the Caribbean, Mexico and South America,” said Dr. Garvey. “It is especially important for pregnant women with plans to travel to these areas to reconsider their plans or take protective action while there.” Zika causes microcephaly (abnormally small head) in babies. This is why pregnant women should reconsider travel to Zika-affected areas and since Zika can be sexually transmitted, women considering pregnancy should be aware if their partner has traveled to a Zika-affected area.

Since the mosquitoes known to transmit Zika (Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus) are not native to Iowa, the risk of transmission in this state is extremely low. Since surveillance began early this year, seven cases of Zika virus have been confirmed in Iowans. All cases involved travel to areas outside the U.S. where Zika transmission is occurring.

The increased talk about mosquitoes and the Zika virus does offer an opportunity to educate Iowans about West Nile virus and prevention. Since 2005, Iowa has had between five and 44 reported cases of West Nile Virus each year. Mosquitoes that transmit West Nile virus and other diseases are established in Iowa. To protect yourself against all mosquito bites and to prevent mosquito breeding:

  • Wear DEET-containing insect repellants
  • Wear long sleeves and long pants when possible when outdoors
  • Avoid being outside when mosquitoes bite – dusk and dawn
  • Patch up screens to protect your home from mosquitoes
  • Get rid of standing water to eliminate breeding grounds

For more information about Zika virus, visit https://idph.iowa.gov/ehi/zika.

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One Response to Branstad and health department say threat of Zika virus transmission threat is low; mosquitoes that carry the virus don’t live in Iowa

  1. Allen

    Allen Reply Report comment

    June 7, 2016 at 2:06 pm

    This is poor information. The ring neck pheasant and the emerald ash borer aren’t native to Iowa either, but they’re here, and for the most part, thriving. To say that, (Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus) are not native to Iowa is true, but that doesn’t mean it can’t survive here.