Campers warned against West Nile virus

p From staff and news service reports

State park managers say the threat of disease-bearing mosquitoes will not keep campers home this weekend, although temporary signs were going up today at some parks warning campers to take precautions because of the West Nile virus.

"We have about 500 campsites, and they are all full right now," said John Castle, operations manager at Coralville Lake campground in Des Moines, Iowa.

Steve Pennington, chief of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources State Parks Bureau, said the signs were being posted to remind campers of precautions they should take.

"Basically, we're warning campers to wear protective clothing and mosquito repellent and to be aware of the times of day (mornings and evenings) when they are most susceptible to mosquito attack," Pennington said.


Ron Hains, Minnesota state parks operations manager, said "I think the public is getting familiar with the information that's out there and taking necessary precautions."

West Nile virus has been a hot topic in Iowa among outdoor enthusiasts since the announcement Wednesday that Duane Meierotto, 50, of West Point, in southeast Iowa, had contracted the state's first human case of West Nile virus.

"No extraordinary measures such as spraying campgrounds will be undertaken in state parks," said Ron Puettmann, manager of Macbride State Park near Solon, Iowa.

Nor will the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers take any specific measures to reduce the mosquito threat at its Coralville campground, Castle said.

Pennington noted, however, that state park visitors can spray their camp and picnic sites with anti-mosquito fogging devices.

Puettmann said he expects Macbride's 50 modern and 60 primitive campsites to be filled by Friday night. Joan Flecksing, park manager at Pleasant Creek State Recreation Area near Palo, said the park's 43 electricity-equipped sites were full as of Thursday.

Flecksing said she and her staff will be reminding campers this weekend to protect themselves with insect repellent containing DEET -- 10 percent for young children and 30 percent for older children and adults.

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