A case of West Nile virus was reported last week in Grand Island, what’s believed to be the first human case in the state this year. By this time last year, there were ten cases of the mosquito-borne illness statewide.
Health educator Karen Yates says ditches continue to get flooded by heavy rain storms, and mosquito larva can’t survive in the flowing water. In the coming weeks, Yates says those ditches will drain and the mosquitoes will again take over and start to reproduce. It’s then, she says, that West Nile virus numbers will start to rise.
Yates says no matter where you live in Nebraska, you should be wary of standing water because it could breed mosquitoes carrying the virus. She says: “It’s very unpredictable. It can show up in any part of the state. There’s really very little that we can do to predict it.”
Yates says West Nile can be a very harmful disease, even fatal. “The main concern,” she says, “is that the virus has the ability to get into people’s nervous systems and cause encephalitis, meningitis, with possible long-term neurological damage.”
Last year, 146 human cases of West Nile were reported statewide, including three deaths.