The Douglas County Health Department has confirmed that a person over the age of 65 with underlying health conditions has died from complications related to West Nile virus. Epidemiologist Dr. Anne O’Keefe says the number of cases in the county is up significantly from last year. There have been eleven confirmed cases and ten of those were last week alone. There were seven cases in 2017.
Dr. O’Keefe says, “We actually keep track of the mosquito populations. We have traps that we got out and monitor this time of year and actually test those mosquitos for West Nile Virus. We have quite a few of those traps where there is West Nile virus positive mosquitoes. We also keep track of human illnesses and all illnesses with West Nile virus are reported to us.”
Most people infected with West Nile virus have no symptoms. About one in five will develop a fever, headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or a rash. Fatigue and weakness can last for several weeks. About 1 in 150 of those infected will develop a severe illness that affects the central nervous system such as encephalitis or meningitis.
Dr. O’Keefe says this is the time of year that mosquitoes carry West Nile virus so it is important to protect yourself from bites. The best methods include using a repellant that includes DEET, picaridin or oil of eucalyptus. Wear loose, long sleeved shirts and long pants with shoes and socks when outdoors. Avoid going outdoors at dawn and dusk when mosquitos are most active. Remove all standing water from your property and that includes tires, bird baths, pet drinking bowls and from under plants. Standing water is a mosquito breeding ground.