The first human case of West Nile virus in Iowa this year was reported Wednesday in a middle-age man from Linn County.

The Iowa Department of Public Health announced the finding.

The department — which has a policy of not providing identifying information that would break privacy laws — says the man is between the ages of 41 and 60 years. He is recovering from the illness.

"This case is a reminder that West Nile virus is out there and Iowans should be taking proper precautions to protect against mosquito bites," Dr. Patricia Quinlisk said.

Quinlisk, the state's medical director, urged the public to take precautions throughout the Independence Day weekend. "It's important to use mosquito repellent and to rid your yards of mosquito breeding areas," she added.

There are no human cases of West Nile Virus yet reported in Illinois, according to Melaney Arnold, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Public Health in Springfield.

Evidence of the disease has been found, however, in mosquitoes tested in Illinois. A total of 12 Illinois counties have found the virus but none are in the immediate Quad-Cities area. Bureau County, Ill., is included, Arnold said.

West Nile virus is transmitted through mosquito bites. The best way to prevent it is to eliminate mosquito breeding areas and use insect repellent when outdoors. The following steps should be taken to reduce the risk of exposure to the virus, Quinlisk said:

  • Use insect repellent with DEET, picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Always read the repellent label and consult with a health care provider if you have questions when using these types of products on children. For example, DEET should not be used on infants less than 2 months old, and oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children younger than 3 years.
  • Avoid outdoor activities at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Wear long-sleeve shirts, pants, shoes and socks whenever possible outdoors.
  • Eliminate standing water around the home because that is where mosquitoes lay eggs. Empty water from buckets, cans, pool covers and pet water dishes. Change the water in birdbaths every three to four days.

About 20 percent of people infected with West Nile virus will have mild to moderate symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches and vomiting. Less than 1 percent of people who are infected become seriously ill, and the disease can be fatal in rare cases. 

Since West Nile virus first appeared in Iowa during 2002, it has been found in every county of the state, either in humans, horses or birds. In 2012, there were 31 human cases of West Nile virus in Iowa and no deaths.

For more information about the virus, check the state website: tinyurl.com/ll8ahzh.