West Nile Virus :: More West Nile Cases Reported

Lincoln?Two more cases of West Nile virus have been reported to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) this week, bringing the total cases reported this year to fourteen.

The new cases are both males, one age 51-64 from Seward County and the other in the 14-25 age range from Knox County.

The other counties that have had positive case reports this summer are Lancaster, Garden, Hall (3), Boone, Thayer, Lincoln, Platte County, Adams County, Scotts Bluff and Buffalo counties.

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

Birds and mosquitoes are tested to see how prevalent the virus is in the environment.

Nine birds have tested positive in the state so far this year, in Scotts Bluff, Wayne (2), Douglas, Sarpy, Cass and Lancaster (3) counties. All have been blue jays or crows.

Scotts Bluff is the county with the highest number of positive mosquito samples, with 18 positives. The other counties with positive mosquito samples are Dawes (2), Sheridan (2), Cherry, Garden, Lincoln, Chase, Dawson (3), Holt (3) and Lancaster.

To avoid mosquito bites, DHHS recommends:

Applying mosquito repellent containing DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus;
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.

There were 264 human cases of the disease reported last year. This compares to 188 in 2005, 57 in 2004, 2,366 in 2003 and 174 in 2002. There were no cases prior to 2002, the year the disease found its way to Nebraska from the East Coast.

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.

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