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Douglas Co. Health Dept. urges protection against West Nile virus as mosquitoes return to area

Break From Bugs
Posted at 10:25 AM, May 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-28 12:11:35-04

Mosquitoes might be the most annoying thing about warmer weather — and the Douglas County Health Department (DCHD) is reminding residents to protect themselves against viruses they carry as they buzz back into the metro.

Each year, mosquito-borne illnesses affect more than 100 million people around the world, according to the health department.

This time of year is when they make their seasonal return.

The health department works to protect the public by putting larvicide in possible breeding sites or stagnant waterways to reduce mosquito populations.

Additionally, DCHD will trap mosquitoes every other week from June 1 until the end of September to study their populations and gather information on different species that are present in the area.

The insects are counted and tested for West Nile virus and other diseases at the Nebraska State Public Health Lab. A variety of species can carry the virus that causes West Nile virus, according to the health department.

The mosquitoes that cause the virus are most active around dusk and dawn.

“The West Nile virus is well established in Douglas County,” Health Director Dr. Adi Pour stated. “We can expect new cases this year.”

Since West Nile virus arrived in Nebraska, cases in Douglas County have ranged from a record of 71 human cases in 2018 to a low of three cases in 2009 and 2015.

DCHD has a mosquito surveillance site that can be used to see species and population density of mosquitoes in your area. Visit the website here.

Here is how you can help protect yourself from mosquito bites, according to the health department:

• Apply a mosquito repellent that includes DEET. The CDC has also approved picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus.

• When using sunscreen, the CDC recommends applying it before applying repellant and avoiding combined products.

• Wear loose, long-sleeved shirts with pants, socks, and shoes when outdoors.

• Avoid the outdoors around dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.

• Remove standing water or report it to the Health Department for treatment.

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