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Human cases of West Nile virus reported to DHHS

Human cases of West Nile virus reported to DHHS

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LINCOLN – Three people have recently tested positive for West Nile virus according to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Each of the following health departments have reported one human case – Three Rivers Health Department which covers Dodge, Saunders and Washington counties; Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department and Douglas County Health Department.

“West Nile virus is a mild illness for most, but can be serious for others so it’s good to be in the habit of protecting yourself against mosquitos,” said Dr. Tom Safranek, special assistant to the CEO. “These are the first human West Nile cases so far this season. Our surveillance data shows that West Nile virus isn’t circulating widely in the mosquito population, but with Nebraskans taking advantage of mild weather to be outdoors basic prevention is still important.”

Preventive tips include the following.

- Use mosquito repellent when spending time outside. Repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, 2-unecanone, and some lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products provide longer-lasting protection.

- Wear long-sleeved shirts, pants and socks when outside.

- Limit time outdoors when mosquitoes are most active – at dusk and dawn.

- Drain areas of standing water, where mosquitos lay eggs.

West Nile virus is transmitted through mosquito bites. Mosquitos acquire it by feeding on infected birds and pass it to people and animals. Last year there were 28 human cases in Nebraska and one death.

Most people with West Nile virus will have no symptoms or only mild flu-like symptoms such as a fever and headache. Those over 50 and anyone with weakened immune systems are at increased risk for a more severe infection.

Severe infections typically occur five to 15 days after exposure and can present as rapid onset of a high fever, body aches, vomiting, fatigue, neck stiffness, disorientation and tremors. Symptoms consistent with a more severe infection should be reported to a doctor.

DHHS began annual West Nile virus surveillance in June. Subscribe to the DHHS West Nile virus webpage for the latest updates - www.dhhs.ne.gov/wnv

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