Newsroom > DHHS News Release

August 21, 2013

Leah Bucco-White, Communications & Legislative Services, 402-471-9356,

West Nile Virus Activity Ramping Up
11 human cases reported 
Note:  Sound bites are posted at:  
Lincoln – Eleven human cases of West Nile virus have been reported to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services so far this summer. Three people were hospitalized.  A map of human cases is available at
“We’re in the heart of West Nile virus season and you’ll want to take steps to protect yourself from mosquito bites,” said Dr. Joseph Acierno, Chief Medical Officer and Director of Public Health for DHHS.  
  • Use mosquito repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535.
  • Dress in long-sleeved shirts, pants and socks when you’re outside.
  • Dusk and dawn are times when mosquitoes are most active. Limit outdoor activities.
  • Drain standing water around your home. Standing water and warmth breed mosquitoes.
Seventy-five mosquito pools in 14 counties have also tested positive for the virus. Those counties include: Adams, Chase, Dawes, Dawson, Dixon, Garden, Garfield, Hall, Lincoln, Madison, Phelps, Scotts Bluff, Sheridan and Webster. No birds have tested positive so far season.
West Nile virus is transmitted to people through the bite of a mosquito that picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird. Most people who are infected will have no symptoms or only mild flu-like symptoms.  Some people will develop a fever with other symptoms like headache, body aches, vomiting, fatigue and weakness. Less than one percent of people will develop a serious illness like encephalitis or meningitis (inflammation of the brain and surrounding tissues).  People over 50 and those with weakened immune systems are especially vulnerable to the disease and are more likely to experience serious consequences.
Last year there were 193 human cases of West Nile virus in Nebraska and four deaths.
West Nile virus surveillance started in June. DHHS tests mosquitoes and birds to determine the level of virus in the state. With the assistance of local health departments, DHHS is collecting and testing dead birds.  To report dead birds, contact your local health department.  To find your department, go to
More information about West Nile virus can be found on the DHHS website at