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Douglas County reports first West Nile virus death of 2021

Health Department tips to avoid catching the virus
Posted at 1:51 PM, Sep 22, 2021

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — About a month ago, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services reported two West Nile deaths within the territory served by the Three Rivers District Health Department, which includes Dodge, Saunders and Washington counties in eastern Nebraska. On Wednesday, the Douglas County Health Department reported the first West Nile virus death in the county for 2021.

RELATED: Two Nebraskans die from West Nile virus this week

“The number of West Nile cases in Douglas County is down from recent years but the disease remains a concern,” Health Director Dr. Lindsay Huse said. “Last year was unusual with only two cases confirmed. This appears to be more of a typical year.”

The department said the person who died was a man in his 80s who was hospitalized after developing symptoms in August and that he had multiple underlying conditions. He died earlier this month.

So far the county has confirmed nine cases of the virus. Eight of those were confirmed this month and all but one of the people were hospitalized.

“Avoiding mosquito bites is how you protect yourself from getting sick,” Dr. Huse emphasized. “It is important for you to reduce the threat.”

To do that, the department said to:

  • Use a mosquito repellant with 30 percent DEET or another CDC-approved repellant.
  • Wear light-colored, loose, long-sleeved shirts and pants, shoes, and socks when 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 have West Nile virus have no symptoms. About one in five develop fever, headache and rash but will likely recover. About one in 150 people will develop serious illnesses such as encephalitis or meningitis.

Cases over the past few years:

  • 2018 - 71
  • 2019 - 11
  • 2020 - 2

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