With the unofficial start of summer this weekend, public health officials across Nebraska are changing their focus from the flu to West Nile virus. Deb Scholten, director of the Northeast Nebraska Public Health Department in Wayne, says efforts will be launched soon to keep tabs on mosquitoes.
They’re setting up mosquito traps around Ponca and Wayne, which often yield different types of the flying pests. Scholten says some areas of the state are more prone to cases of West Nile.
The mosquitoes that breed in irrigation areas are more susceptible to the virus and carry it, so more West Nile cases are often reported around Kearney and in the Platte River valley.
The annual numbers of West Nile virus cases and deaths have decreased over the past few summers. Scholten offers an explanation: “There is some immunity building up among the population, at least we hope so, because we are not seeing the deaths that we saw back a few years ago when it first emerged.”
She says people need to take the normal summer precautions against mosquito exposure. Also, people may be more at risk if they have a compromised immune system, also — the elderly, those undergoing chemotherapy or people who have a chronic disease.
Thanks to Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton