Newsroom > DHHS News Release

July 14, 2011

Leah Bucco-White, Communications and Legislative Services, (402) 471-9356

Bird Tests Positive for West Nile

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Lincoln – A bird in Boone County has tested positive for West Nile Virus according to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). It’s the first positive bird seen so far this season.

Earlier in the month, mosquito pools in Madison, Dawson, and Douglas Counties also tested positive for the virus. No human cases have been reported.

“We’ll see West Nile Virus showing up in more birds and mosquitoes as the summer progresses, and it’s only a matter of time before we have some human cases too,” said Dr. Joann Schaefer, the state’s Chief Medical Officer and Director of Public Health for DHHS. ”If you’re already taking precautions to avoid mosquito bites, keep up the good work. If you haven’t been, the time to do so is now.”

Fight the bite:

  • 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.

  • Eliminate standing water to reduce mosquito breeding sites.

West Nile 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 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.

Recent flooding will result in an increased number of mosquitoes. Most of the new mosquitoes will be the nuisance kind that don’t carry West Nile Virus, but it’s still important to protect yourself because they can carry other diseases.

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