Newsroom > DHHS News Release

For Immediate Release
June 16, 2016

Contact Leah Bucco-White, Communications and Legislative Services, (402) 471-9356 or leah.bucco-white@nebraska.gov

First Human Case of West Nile Virus Reported to DHHS

Lincoln—A person in the Three Rivers Health Department area (Dodge, Saunders and Washington Counties) tested positive for West Nile virus according to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. The person was not hospitalized.

“This is the first human case so far this season and there will be more,” said Dr. Tom Safranek, State Epidemiologist for DHHS. “West Nile virus can be a mild illness for some but serious for others. It’s important to get into the habit of protecting yourself from mosquito bites now because we’ve got a summer of warm weather and outdoor activities ahead of us.”

Preventive tips:
  • Wear mosquito repellent when you go outside. Repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535 and some lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products provide longer-lasting protection.
  • 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. 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 1 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.

DHHS started its West Nile virus surveillance at the beginning of June. Two mosquito pools have tested positive in Dawson County.

           WNV in Nebraska
            Year               Human Cases               Deaths
            2015                       68                            2
            2014                      142                           8 
            2013                      226                           5
            2012                      193                           4
            2011                       29                            0
            2010                       39                            2
 
Subscribe to the DHHS West Nile virus webpage to get the latest updates - www.dhhs.ne.gov/wnv

In addition, DHHS also started surveillance in limited areas of eastern Nebraska for the Aedes albopictus or Asian tiger mosquito which can be a transmitter of Zika virus. This particular type of mosquito has been found in very limited numbers in eastern Nebraska previously. The additional surveillance will give public health officials an idea of how prevalent the Asian tiger mosquito is locally.
 
So far a very small number of Asian tiger mosquitoes have been found in Richardson County. According to Dr. Safranek, this is not unexpected and doesn’t change that Nebraska is considered a low-risk state for the possibility of Zika virus being transmitted here.

For people traveling to an area with Zika, dengue and/or chikungunya, it’s important to practice proper mosquito prevention when abroad and protect yourself from mosquito bites when you return.

For Zika-related traveler information and advisories, go to - http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/zika-travel-information.
 
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