Newsroom > DHHS News Release

For Immediate Release
June 29, 2015

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

West Nile Virus Arrives in Nebraska
Protect Yourself from WNV and Tick-related Diseases

Note:  Sound bites on this topic are available at: www.dhhs.ne.gov/audio

Lincoln—West Nile virus is synonymous with summer in Nebraska. A mosquito pool in Webster county is the first one to test positive for the virus this season.

“We spend more time outdoors over the Fourth of July and throughout the summer which increases our chances of mosquito and other bug bites,” said Dr. Tom Safranek, State Epidemiologist for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. “Remember to take simple steps like using bug spray to help protect you and your family.”

Other preventive tips:

  • Make sure your mosquito repellent contains DEET, picaridin, lemon eucalyptus oil 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. No birds have tested positive for West Nile virus and there are no human cases so far. Last year there were 142 human cases in Nebraska and eight 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.  

Tips to protect yourself from tick bites:

  • 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.

For more information about West Nile Virus, go to www.dhhs.ne.gov/wnv

You can find out more about tick-related diseases here www.cdc.gov/ticks/.

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