Eleven 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 38.
The new counties with human cases are Cedar, Dodge, Dundy, Furnas, Rock, Saunders and Webster. New cases were added to Douglas and Lancaster.
The counties previously reporting positive cases this summer are Adams, Antelope, Boone, Buffalo, Clay, Douglas, Garden, Hall, Harlan, Knox, Lancaster, Lincoln, Perkins, Platte, Scotts Bluffs, Seward and Thayer counties.
West Nile is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird.
“Right now is prime time to catch West Nile because mosquitoes are just loaded with virus, there are more of them, and they are switching their feeding habits from birds to humans,” said Dr. Annette Bredthauer, the state?s public health veterinarian.
Dr. Bredthauer expects to see a peak in the reporting of human cases in the next two weeks because it takes that long before symptoms appear after a mosquito bite.
To avoid mosquito bites and prevent the disease, DHHS recommends the four “Ds”:
Dusk and dawn?avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active;
Dress in long-sleeved shirts and pants;
Drain areas where mosquitoes can breed; and
DEET, wear mosquito repellent (picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus are also good choices).
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.
Birds and mosquitoes are tested to see how prevalent the virus is in the environment.
Mosquitoes positive for West Nile have been found in Chase, Cherry, Dawes, Dawson, Douglas, Garden, Hall, Holt, Jefferson, Lancaster, Lincoln, Scotts Bluff and Sheridan counties.
Birds have tested positive in the state so far this year from Adams, Burt, Cass, Cuming Douglas, Hall, Lancaster, Lincoln, Madison, Sarpy, Saunders, Scotts Bluff and Wayne counties.
In addition, horses from Custer, Dodge, Hall, and Scotts Bluff counties have tested positive for the virus.