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West Nile Virus found in Douglas County for first time this season

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Posted at 1:36 PM, Sep 13, 2023

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The Douglas County Health Department says two batches of mosquitoes in the county have tested positive for West Nile Virus. The virus, though rare in humans, can cause serious illness. Two of the five human cases in Douglas County have required hospitalization.

Earlier this summerthe state said that West Nile cases were highthis season.

Here's the news release from the county health department:

Two pools (batches) of mosquitoes in Douglas County have tested positive for the West Nile Virus, marking the first of the season, according to the Douglas County Health Department (DCHD) and the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. The pools were at Boys Town and Seymour Smith Park.

There have been five confirmed cases of West Nile infection among residents of Douglas County. Among these cases this season. Four are men and one is a woman. All are aged between 40 and 75. It is suspected that at least two of these cases contracted the virus while traveling. Two of these individuals required hospitalization.

“This is not unexpected as Nebraska has seen an unusually large number of positive mosquito pools in the rest of the state,” Health Director Dr. Lindsay Huse said. “This new development is a good reason for everyone in Douglas County to protect yourself from mosquito bites.”

People are infected with West Nile Virus through mosquito bites from mosquitos that have fed on birds infected with the disease. The Health Department traps the insects at potential breeding sites in the county to track the mosquito population and for disease surveillance.

“The best way to avoid getting sick is to prevent mosquito bites,” Dr. Huse emphasized. “That’s your first and best defense.”

Here is how to reduce your chance of getting mosquito bites:

• Use a mosquito repellant with 30 percent DEET or another CDC-approved repellant.

• Wear light-colored, loose, long-sleeved shirts, pants, shoes, and socks outdoors.

• Avoid outdoor activity around dawn and dusk when mosquitos are most active.

• Remove standing water near your home or ask the Health Department to treat it.

Most people who are infected with the West Nile virus have no symptoms. Roughly one in five will develop a fever, headache, and rash but will likely recover fully. About one person in 150 infected will develop a severe illness such as encephalitis or meningitis.

Douglas County had a record 71 confirmed cases of West Nile virus in 2018. Last year, the county experienced six confirmed cases, but in 2020, the county had only two cases.

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