The Douglas County Health Department is again providing surveillance for the West Nile Virus. Reid Steinkraus is the Douglas County Health Department’s Supervisor of Sanitation Control and he says one of the ways they track West Nile Virus is through birds and they encourage residents to report dead ones found in their yard.
The Health Department says they have the greatest interest in crows, black-billed magpies and blue jays. Red tailed hawks, peregrine falcons and owls also may be infected.
Steinkraus says they are also trapping mosquitoes every two weeks and they are shipped to the state Department of Health and Human Services to be tested for West Nile Virus. He says they are also doing larval surveillance at eleven different water sites to gauge if they need to be treating those areas if they find excessive numbers.
Health officials say it is very difficult to predict the number of West Nile Virus cases but they do recommend Nebraskans do their part to avoid mosquito bites. That includes using a mosquito repellant that includes DEET. If you are using both sunscreen and repellant, the sunscreen goes on first. Wear loose, long sleeved shirts, long pants, shoes and socks when outdoors. Avoid outdoor activity around dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active. Remove standing water from your property or report it to the Health Department for treatment.
In recent years the number of West Nile Virus cases in Douglas County ranged from 69 in 2003 to a low of two cases in 2004. In 2012 there were 15 reported cases of West Nile Virus.