2018 has been the worst year for the deadly West Nile virus in Iowa in 15 years.

Over 70 cases of illness and 3 confirmed deaths from West Nile virus have occurred in the state this year, and officials warn those number could climb higher.

West Nile virus can cause serious illness, including fever and brain swelling, and it's spread by mosquitoes. Those pests most likely to carry the virus come out in late summer and early fall.

The health department promotes these four tips for Iowans to protect themselves:

  • Adults should use insect repellent with DEET.
  • Avoid outdoor activities at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts, pants, shoes and socks outdoors.
  • Eliminate standing water around your property, because that's where mosquitoes lay eggs.

[source: Des Moines Register]

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