As Nebraskans head out for the last long weekend of the summer, Douglas County Health Department spokesperson Phil Rooney says protect yourself against mosquito bites. They carry West Nile virus and this is the most active year in at least a decade.
Rooney says, “So far we have had 22 people in Douglas County diagnosed with West Nile virus. Fourteen people have been hospitalized this year including 13 with the more serious West Nile fever. That is a very severe illness. it affects the central nervous system. We still have about a half-dozen people hospitalized in the county. There are some people responding very negatively to this.”
Douglas County has seen triple the number of cases compared to last year and most have been reported in the last several weeks.
While most people have no symptoms, about one in five will develop a fever, head and body aches, joint pain, vomiting, diarrhea or a rash. Fatigue and weakness can last for weeks.
There have been two West Nile deaths in Nebraska this year, one in Douglas County and one reported by the Three Rivers Public Health Department that serves Dodge, Saunders and Washington Counties.