“This is the first human case so far this season and there will be more,” said Dr. Tom Safranek, State Epidemiologist for DHHS. “West Nile virus can be a mild illness for some but serious for others. It’s important to get into the habit of protecting yourself from mosquito bites now because we’ve got a summer of warm weather and outdoor activities ahead of us.”
- 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 virus is transmitted to people through the bite of a mosquito that picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird. Most people who are infected will have no symptoms or only mild flu-like symptoms. Some people will develop a fever with other symptoms like headache, body aches, vomiting, fatigue and weakness. Fewer than 1 percent of people will develop a serious illness like encephalitis or meningitis (inflammation of the brain and surrounding tissues). People over 50 and those with weakened immune systems are especially vulnerable to the disease and are more likely to experience serious consequences.Last year there were 68 human cases in Nebraska and two deaths.
DHHS started its West Nile virus surveillance at the beginning of June. A mosquito pool in Lancaster County and a mosquito pool in Phelps County tested positive early that month.