A Panhandle mosquito trap site has recently collected mosquitoes positive with West Nile virus, the Panhandle Public Health District confirmed Wednesday.
According to a news release, these are the first confirmed positive mosquitoes in the state of Nebraska. The positive mosquitoes give Panhandle Public Health District (PPHD), along with other health departments, an indicator of the location of the virus and where people may come into contact with mosquitoes carrying the virus.
Multiple locations across Nebraska are routinely monitoring sites to trap and test mosquitoes over the summer months, the news release said. Human cases of West Nile are also used for surveillance.
At this time, there have been no human cases of West Nile detected, PPHD said.
West Nile virus is contracted through the bite of a mosquito. It begins with flu-like symptoms that can include a slight fever and headaches, though 8 out of 10 people never develop symptoms. Severe symptoms of West Nile can lead to encephalitis which can cause inflammation of the brain, disorientation, convulsions and paralysis. People with compromised immune systems are especially susceptible to this disease.
PPHD said prevention is the best to avoid getting diseases from mosquitoes. All Nebraska residents are encouraged to use insect repellent that has DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus; be careful at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active; and wear long sleeve shirts and pants, especially when out hiking and camping.
Mosquitoes can breed in small pools of water. PPHD said to frequently check property for standing water and drain items such as kid wagons, bird baths, flowerpots, gutters, and tires.
Even with the sudden change in weather, PPHD advises to be cautious outdoors until there are consistently low overnight temperatures.
For questions about West Nile virus, call Melissa Haas at 308-487-3600, extension 108, or e-mail at email@example.com.