1st West Nile Nebraska cases reported

Lincoln—The first cases of West Nile virus have been reported to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.  The cases involve two men—one in his fifties from Scotts Bluff County and the other in his forties from Colfax County.  The Scotts Bluff County man was hospitalized and released.

So far, Nebraska has had four pools of mosquitoes test positive for the virus—in Red Willow, Douglas, Lincoln and Cherry counties.
The virus is likely in other parts of the state, and people should take precautions, said Dr. Annette Bredthauer, the state's public health veterinarian.

“People should take care to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes, no matter what part of the state they live in,” she said.  “It only takes one bite to infect you.”

West Nile is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird.

To avoid mosquito bites, DHHS recommends:

  • Applying mosquito repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535;
  • Wearing long-sleeved shirt, pants and socks;
  • Avoiding going out at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active; and
  • Eliminating standing water to reduce mosquito breeding sites.

DHHS tests mosquitoes and birds to determine the level of virus in the state.  No birds have tested positive yet.  With the assistance of local health departments, DHHS is collecting and testing dead birds.  To report dead birds, contact your local health department.  To find your department, go to http://www.dhhs.ne.gov/puh/oph/lhd.htm  

Most people who are infected by a mosquito have no symptoms or only mild flu-like symptoms. Less than one out of 150 people who get bitten by an infected mosquito and become infected will get seriously ill. However, people over 50 and those with weakened immune systems are especially vulnerable to the disease and are more likely to experience serious consequences.

West Nile fever includes flu-like symptoms such as fever and muscle weakness. Symptoms of the more serious West Nile encephalitis include inflammation of the brain, disorientation, convulsions and paralysis.

More information can be found on the HHS website at www.dhhs.ne.gov/wnv