“West Nile virus is synonymous with summer in Nebraska. It shows up every season and taking steps to protect yourself should be part of your routine,” said Dr. Joseph Acierno, Director of Public Health and Chief Medical Officer for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.
- 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.
West Nile virus is transmitted to people through the bite of a mosquito that picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird.
DHHS started its West Nile virus surveillance at the beginning of June. So far this season one mosquito pool in Scottsbluff County tested positive for the virus. No birds have tested positive for West Nile virus and there are no human cases. Last year there were 193 human cases in Nebraska and four deaths.
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.
Nebraskans should also try to avoid ticks. Ticks can cause ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia and Lyme disease.
Symptoms of tick- and mosquito-related illnesses can be similar—fever, rash, body aches and pains. Tick-related illnesses can be serious as well.
- Wearing insect repellent also protects you from ticks.
- Dressing in long-sleeved shirts, pants and socks help keep ticks off your skin.
- Do frequent tick checks after being outdoors and remove attached ticks promptly with fine-tipped tweezers.