Nebraska has recorded its first human case of West Nile virus, prompting state health officials to warn residents to take precautions.
A person in the Three Rivers Health Department area of Dodge, Saunders, and Washington Counties in eastern Nebraska has tested positive for the West Nile virus.
Deputy Director Jenifer Roberts-Johnson with the Division of Public Health says some might believe they’re safe, because it has turned hot and dry.
“I think people tend to associate the wetness a little more with mosquitoes, but as we can see we’ve had sort of a blend of wet and dry this summer already and we have had our first human case. We’ve also detected these mosquitoes, or positive mosquitoes, in Dawson County, in some of the traps that we set there,” Roberts-Johnson tells Nebraska Radio Network. “So, I think people just need to continue to be cautious.”
The Division of Public Health expects to see more cases of West Nile virus in humans. The virus often develops as a mild illness, but it can become quite serious for others.
Prevention is the key.
State officials give the following tips:
· Wear mosquito repellent when you go outside. Repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535 and some lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products provide longer-lasting protection.
· Dress in long-sleeved shirts, pants and socks when you’re outside.
· Dusk and dawn are times when mosquitoes are most active. Limit outdoor activities.
· Drain standing water around your home. Standing water and warmth breed mosquitoes.
West Nile is transmitted to humans through the bite of a mosquito which has picked up the virus from an infected bird. Most people will experience only mild flu-like symptoms.
Some develop a fever with a headache, body aches, vomiting, fatigue, and weakness. Only about a present of anyone bitten by an infected mosquito develop a serious illness such as encephalitis or meningitis (inflammation of the brain and surrounding tissues).
Older people and those with a weakened immune system are the most vulnerable.
The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services started its West Nile virus surveillance at the beginning of June. Two mosquito pools have tested positive in Dawson County.
WNV in Nebraska
2015: 68, 2
2014: 142, 8
2013: 226, 5
2012: 193, 4
2011: 29, 0
2010: 39, 2
The latest count can be found by clicking here for the DHHS West Nile virus webpage.
DHHS also has started surveillance in limited areas of eastern Nebraska for the Aedes albopictus or Asian tiger mosquito which can be a transmitter of Zika virus. This particular type of mosquito has been found in very limited numbers in eastern Nebraska previously. Only a few have been found in Richardson County.
The biggest risk is to Nebraskans who have traveled to areas with Zika, dengue and/or chikungunya.
For Zika-related traveler information and advisories, click here.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]