Zika virus is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito. Although the virus usually causes mild illness according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are also reports of birth defects and other severe health consequences.
Number of travel-related cases in Nebraska during 2016 = 16
Number of travel-related cases in Nebraska during 2017 = 6
Total number of travel related cases in Nebraska 2016-2017 = 22
Countries Associated with Travel-Related Arboviral Infections Detected in NE Residents
The primary mosquito (Aedes aegypti) that transmits Zika virus is found in tropical areas and the southern U.S., but is not established in Nebraska. DHHS started surveillance in certain areas of eastern Nebraska for the Aedes albopictus or Asian tiger mosquito which can also 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.
A small number of Asian Tiger mosquitos have been found in Richardson County. According to State Epidemiologist Dr. Tom 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.