First West Nile Virus Death of 2023

News Release
For Immediate Release: 8/22/2023

Allan Urlis, APR, (402) 432-1532,


Lincoln – Nebraska's first West Nile Virus death of 2023 has been recorded.

Last year, the state's first West Nile Virus death occurred in September. The last five years in Nebraska have seen an average of six West Nile Virus deaths a year. The most being 13 deaths in 2018 and the least being one in both 2019 and 2020. In less than one percent West Nile Virus cases, the virus affects the nervous system and can lead to serious issues such as inflammation of the brain. ​

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services encourages Nebraskans to take preventative steps to avoid mosquito bites, which carry the West Nile Virus.
Use Insect Repellent
Use Environmental Protection Agency registered insect repellents with one of the active ingredients below. When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breastfeeding women.

  • DEET
  • Picaridin (known as KBR 3023 and icaridin outside the US)
  • IR3535
  • Oil of lemon eucalyptus
  • Para-menthane-diol
  • 2-undecanone 

Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants

  • Use 0.5 percent permethrin to treat clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks and tents) or buy permethrin-treated clothing and gear.
  • Permethrin is an insecticide that kills or repels mosquitoes.
  • Permethrin-treated clothing provides protection after multiple washings.
  • Read product information to find out how long the protection will last.
  • If treating yourself, follow the product instructions
  • Do not use permethrin products directly on skin. 

Take extra precautions when going outdoors at dawn and dusk

  • Dawn and dusk are when mosquitoes are most active. 

Take steps to control mosquitoes indoors and outdoors

  • Use screens on windows and doors. Repair holes in screens to keep mosquitoes outdoors.
  • Use air conditioning, if available.
  • Stop mosquitoes from laying eggs in or near water.
    • Once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out items that hold water, such as tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpots or trash containers.
    • Check for water-holding containers both indoors and outdoors.
  • Most people, 80 percent, who become infected with West Nile virus do not develop any symptoms. About 20 percent of people who are infected develop mild symptoms and recover completely, but fatigue and weakness can last for weeks or months. Less than 1 percent of people who are infected develop a severe illness affecting the central nervous system. Of the neuroinvasive cases, approximately 10 percent are fatal. 

Anyone can get infected with West Nile Virus, but people over 50 years of age or older are at greatest risk for severe illness but can occur in people of any age. People with compromised immune systems also are at greater risk.

Mild signs and symptoms

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Body aches
  • Skin rash and
  • Swollen lymph glands 

Severe signs and symptoms

  • High fever
  • Headache
  • Neck stiffness
  • Stupor
  • Disorientation
  • Coma
  • Tremors
  • Occasional convulsions
  • Paralysis 

The mosquito season begins in the summer and continues through fall.

More information about West Nile Virus and risk reduction can be found at

For vector-borne disease data and statistics, please visit:​

Go to
All News Releases