Newsroom > DHHS News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 13, 2010

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

West Nile Death Reported to DHHS

Note: Sound bites on this topic will be available shortly at: http://www.dhhs.ne.gov/Pages/audio.aspx

Lincoln – A Northeast Nebraska woman in her 80s has died from West Nile Virus. This is the first West Nile Virus death in Nebraska since 2008, according to Nebraska Health and Human Services System (DHHS) data.

“Life is precious and sadly this death underscores how severe a case of West Nile Virus can be,” said Dr. Joann Schaefer, the state’s Chief Medical Officer and Director of DHHS’ Division of Public Health. “I feel for the family and my heart goes out to them.”

State statutes prevent the release of additional details about the person.

West Nile is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird. So far this year, there have been a total of 19 human cases of West Nile Virus in 12 Nebraska counties.

Most people who are infected by a mosquito have no symptoms or only mild flu-like symptoms. Less than one out of 150 people who get bitten by an infected mosquito and become infected will get seriously ill. However, people over 50 and those with weakened immune systems are especially vulnerable to the disease and are more likely to experience serious consequences.

West Nile fever includes flu-like symptoms such as fever and muscle weakness. Symptoms of the more serious West Nile encephalitis include inflammation of the brain, disorientation, convulsions and paralysis.

It’s important for people to continue to take precautions and protect themselves said Dr. Schaefer.

  • Apply mosquito repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535;
  • Wear long-sleeved shirt, pants and socks;
  • Avoid going out at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active; and
  • Eliminate standing water to reduce mosquito breeding sites.
DHHS Human West Nile Case Data:
Year Cases  Deaths
2010 (YTD) 19 1
2009 51    0

2008  

47  

1

2007  

163  

4

2006  

264  

2

2005  

188  

5

2004  

53  

0

2003  

1,994  

27

2002  

174  

7

More information can be found on the DHHS website at www.dhhs.ne.gov/publichealth/Pages/wnv.aspx

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