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West Nile cases high in Douglas County

Posted: 4:39 PM, Sep 19, 2018
Updated: 2018-09-19 17:39:32-04

A Fort Calhoun man contracted the West Nile virus in July and just this week he passed away.

Dale Kumm was bitten by a West Nile carrying mosquito in late July and knew something was not right. 

“We didn't immediately go to the hospital because we didn't know what was happening. It wasn't until he got the high fever,” says Grace Kumm, wife of Dale. 

The 59-year-old mechanic was in the hospital for five weeks, which was tough on him and his family. 

"He was so disoriented, so delusional, he kept saying he was here in Fort Calhoun" says Kumm. 

Kumm's condition had actually improved enough for him to go home, but just this Monday he had a seizure and died on his way to the hospital. He's one of six Nebraskans to die from the virus this year.

Heavy summer rains have created the perfect conditions for mosquitoes to breed. The Douglas County Health Department says it’s collected almost three times as many mosquitoes as last year and over half are culex mosquitoes, which carries west nile.

"There are certain mosquitoes that like to breed in certain types of water and the culex mosquito likes to breed in standing water," says Russ Haden, environmental specialist, Douglas County Health Department

The health department says one person has died from West Nile in Douglas County, but that's the exception, often times a person may not even know they have the virus. 

"Most people have no symptoms when they've been infected with West Nile, about 20 percent of people will develop symptoms," says Justin Frederick, Infectious Disease Epidemiologist, Douglas County Health Department

To get the word out about the dangers of West Nile, the county has put out a commercial to alert the public.

Dale Kumm's friend, Ronald Murray Jr., says if you are bitten by a mosquito, don't assume you're safe.

"We need to not take it for granted, you never know which one might be carrying it." Ronald Murray Jr., Friend of Dale.