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First sampling of West Nile virus reported in Douglas County

Posted at 1:17 PM, Sep 11, 2020

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The Douglas County Health Department has confirmed the first positive test for the West Nile virus this year in a mosquito sampling.

The sampling came from Seymour L. Smith Park, and was included in the most recent group received by the Health Department in results that were reported Friday by the Nebraska Public Health Lab. The department says lower than usual populations of mosquitoes have been reported since May when the Health Department began its annual census operation.

No human cases have been reported in the county so far this year. Last year saw fewer than normal West Nile virus cases, with only seven confirmed cases in 2019 following 71 cases in 2018.

Most people who are infected by a mosquito have no symptoms or only mild flu-like symptoms. Fewer than one in 150 people who are bitten by an infected mosquito will have a serious illness. People more than 50 years old and those with weakened immune systems are especially vulnerable to the disease and are more likely to suffer serious consequences.

“This report is a reminder for everyone to follow our simple recommendations for protecting yourself from mosquito bites,” Health Director Dr. Adi Pour said. “This is a late start to what we anticipate will be a short West Nile season.”

To reduce your chances of mosquito bites, the department offers several tips:

• Following label instructions, apply a mosquito repellent containing DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
• Minimize your activities outdoors at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
• Wear loose, long-sleeved shirts, plus pants, shoes and socks when you’re outdoors.

To prevent mosquitoes from breeding near you, the department has several recommendations:

• Remove standing water whenever possible.
• Empty buckets and pet dishes on a daily basis and bird baths on a weekly basis.
• Clear weeds and anything else that may block water from draining properly.
• Follow proper swimming pool maintenance procedures.
• Keep water moving in ponds or fountains.