West Nile cases up in 2021

What you can do to prepare for next season

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN)-The West Nile virus impacted more Lancaster county residents this year, than it has in the last few years, killing one resident, and sending 9 others to the hospital.

“This year we had 10 cases of West Nile and what’s interesting is 9 of those is what we call neuroinvasive involving the central nervous system, and only one was what we call West Nile fever,” said Tim Timmons Communicable disease program supervisor for Lincoln Lancaster county health department.

Patients with more serious cases can experience more than flu-like symptoms.

“Symptoms can start as a headache, neck stiffness, disorientation even paralysis,” said Timmons.

Teams at the health department trap mosquitoes from May until September.  This year none of the 6 testing pools in Lancaster county had any West Nile positives.

“It’s important to remember that West Nile is endemic now, so regardless if we get positive mosquito pools, folks still need to take precautions to prevent being bitten,” said Chris Schroeder water quality supervisor with Lincoln Lancaster county health department.

Once temperatures hit 28 degrees, for several hours, any mosquitoes who have not prepared for winter will be killed.

“They are cold-blooded, so in the fall we typically see temps in the 50s and the adults are not active and are trying to find places to be over winter,” said Schroeder.

Checking your garage or outdoor shed for mosquitoes is a start, but you should also winterize.

“Cleaning out their gutters, that can be potential mosquito breeding sites. Emptying containers. Emptying birdbaths. Eliminating standing water areas in the yard that could collect water in the spring,” said Schroeder.

Throughout the State this year, there have been 6 deaths and it sent 58 people to the hospital, whereas according to the department of health and human services, there was one death and one hospitalization in 2019 and 2020.

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