LINCOLN – The first human case of West Nile virus for the 2021 season has been found in the Elkhorn-Logan Valley Health Department area (Burt, Cuming, Madison, and Stanton Counties). The person who tested positive was not hospitalized, according to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).
West Nile virus is the most prevalent mosquito-borne disease in the U.S. with Nebraska having one of the highest rates of disease in the country. Last year, DHHS detected West Nile in 21 mosquito samples and reported 15 human cases (10 hospitalized) and one death. It has been detected every year in the state since 2002 with more than 4,000 cases and 86 deaths reported to date.
• Make sure your mosquito repellent contains DEET, picaridin, lemon eucalyptus oil or IR3535.
• Dress in long-sleeved shirts, pants and socks when you’re outside.
• Dusk and dawn are times when mosquitoes are most active. Limit outdoor activities.
• Drain standing water around your home. Standing water and warmth breed mosquitoes.
West Nile virus is transmitted to people through the bite of a mosquito that became infected with the virus by feeding on an infected bird. Most people who are infected will have no symptoms or only mild flu-like symptoms. Some people will develop a fever with other symptoms like headache, body aches, vomiting, fatigue and weakness. Less than one percent of people will develop a serious illness like encephalitis or meningitis (inflammation of the brain and surrounding tissues). People over 50 and those with weakened immune systems are especially vulnerable to the disease and are more likely to experience serious consequences.
DHHS started its West Nile virus surveillance at the beginning of June. It was previously reported last week that two mosquito pools tested positive in Scottsbluff County (https://dhhs.ne.gov/Pages/Mosquitoes-in-Panhandle-Found-with-West-Nile-Virus.aspx).
For more information, the Elkhorn Loup Valley Public Health Department can be reached at 402-529-2233 or 877-379-4400; DHHS West Nile Virus Page- https://dhhs.ne.gov/Pages/west-nile-virus.aspx; and the West Nile Virus in Nebraska Health Alert Advisory- https://dhhs.ne.gov/han%20Documents/ADVISORY07212021.pdf