West Nile virus is making a bold stand in Nebraska this year.
Douglas County has seen 22 cases so far this year, which is triple the number from all of last season. Two deaths linked to the virus have been reported in the state.
“This is the most active year for West Nile virus in at least a decade,” Health Director Dr. Adi Pour said. “We are asking everyone to follow the basic steps needed to protect yourself from this disease over the Labor Day weekend.”
Everyone has a role to play and here are some ways you can help prevent mosquito bites:
- Remove standing water or report it to the Health Department for treatment.
- Wear loose, long-sleeved shirts, plus pants, shoes and socks when outdoors.
- Apply a CDC approved mosquito repellant. That includes many with DEET but others are approved – check the label for that information.
- Limit outdoor activity between dawn and dusk when mosquitos that carry West Nile are most active, but remember mosquitoes can bite during any part of the day.
One of the two Nebraskans whose deaths have been linked to the virus was a Douglas County resident. Of the 22 confirmed cases, 14 people have been hospitalized including 13 with the more serious West Nile fever. That is a severe illness that affects the central nervous system such as encephalitis or meningitis.
In the past few weeks, the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department has received reports of six cases of West Nile Virus in Lancaster County affecting people ages 28 to 64 years old. Sarpy and Cass counties have also seen an uptick in cases. Typically, the Sarpy/Cass Health Department sees an average of four cases per year. However, this week six cases were reported to the Department, bringing this season's total to fourteen cases.
Most people infected with West Nile virus have no symptoms, but about one in five will develop a fever with head and body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash. Fatigue and weakness can last for weeks but these individuals generally will fully recover.