West Nile Virus makes its 2021 appearance in Nebraska

What is West Nile Virus, and how can you avoid it?

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – Almost one week after Nebraska recorded its first West Nile Virus-positive mosquito of the year, a person has tested positive for the virus. As it turns out, they’re on opposite sides of the state. The mosquito was trapped near Scottsbluff, and the person comes from an area of the state that includes Burt, Cuming, Madison, and Stanton Counties.

The West Nile Virus is certainly out there, and while it is serious business, it’s not as scary as it might sound.

Chris Schroeder, Water Quality Program Supervisor at Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department explains the odds: “80% of people don’t have symptoms, but around 20% can get flu-like symptoms.” He breaks it down further, adding, “Less than 1% can get the more serious form of the disease which is neuro-invasive, which can have serious long-term health effects, and even fatalities.” Schroeder explains the fatalities are part of a still smaller group.

So how do you keep the bugs at bay? They love to breed in standing water, so be sure to dump that out. There’s still more you can do, though.

“Avoiding dusk and dawn, wearing long-sleeve shirts, long pants, and also applying EPA-approved mosquito repellents”, says Schroeder.

We are still in the height of mosquito season, until September, usually. However, “People tend to get complacent this time of year, honestly”, says Schroeder. “There’s typically less mosquitos as we go through the season, but you have a higher chance of being bitten by a mosquito that’s carrying the virus.”

It all comes down to avoiding mosquitos, narrowing their window of opportunity, and if you do get a bite, don’t panic. The odds are, they’ll just bug you a bit.


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