Nebraska is reporting its first human case of West Nile Virus this year, a case officials will only say came from the area of Hall, Merrick and Hamilton counties. Kim Buser is a registered nurse with Public Health Solutions Health District, in southeast Nebraska.
“The good news is that human case was not someone that was hospitalized,” Buser says. “It was a very mild case, so, we always like to see that.”
Buser says there is a regular mosquito monitoring program that involves the trapping of the tiny, flying pests.
“Those mosquitoes are frozen and sent into a lab and what happens is, they go through and look for the type of mosquito that can carry West Nile,” Buser says. “Not every mosquito can carry the virus. The good news is, most of the mosquitoes you see right now are a huge nuisance, but it’s a very small number of them that can actually transmit West Nile.”
The Culex msquito is the insect that is problematic and its numbers have increased ten-fold in the past year.
“With all this rain we’ve had, literally, over 90% of the mosquitoes that are biting you now are what we call flood hatchlings,” Buser says. “They’re just the common mosquito that annoy you but they cannot give you the West Nile virus.”
Buser says every county in Nebraska is experiencing above-average mosquito counts, with some experiencing far-above-average numbers. Recent repeated flooding in some Nebraska areas this year has left a lot of wet areas and standing water.
Buser says property owners should remove standing water and keep vegetation trimmed, as ways to remove potential breeding area for mosquitoes. Old tires, flower pots, buckets, cans and birdbaths are among the areas where mosquitoes can breed. When outside, you should use an insect repellant containing DEET and wear long-sleeve shirts and long pants, especially during dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most prevalent.
By Doug Kennedy, KWBE, Beatrice