First Signs Of West Nile Virus Found In Panhandle Mosquitoes

LINCOLN – State health officials are warning Nebraskans following a panhandle mosquito trap site which recently collected mosquitoes that tested positive for the West Nile virus.

According to a release from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) on July 14, these are the first confirmed positive mosquitoes in Nebraska.

Mosquito surveillance and testing gives the Panhandle Public Health District (PPHD), along with other health departments, an early indicator of where and when the virus is circulating providing valuable information where people may come into contact with mosquitoes carrying the virus.

Multiple locations across Nebraska are routinely monitored to trap and test mosquitoes over the summer months. Human cases of West Nile are also used for surveillance; however, at this time, there have been no human cases of West Nile detected.

West Nile virus is contracted through the bite of a mosquito. Symptoms may include a fever and headaches, although eight out of ten people remain asymptomatic. Severe cases of West Nile can lead to meningitis, encephalitis, disorientation, convulsions, paralysis, and potentially death. People with compromised immune systems are especially susceptible to this disease and individuals >50 years of age are at higher risk of developing severe disease. No specific vaccines or antivirals are available for treatment of West Nile virus infection.

Prevention is the best way to avoid getting diseases from mosquitoes. All Nebraska residents are encouraged to:

  • Use an EPA approved insect repellent that has DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
  • Be careful at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Wear long sleeve shirts and pants, especially when out hiking and camping.
  • Frequently check your property for standing water and drain items such as wagons, bird baths, flowerpots, gutters, and tires. Mosquitoes can breed in small pools of water.
  • Be cautious outdoors until there are consistently low overnight temperatures, even with sudden changes in weather

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