LINCOLN – A mosquito trap site located in Hall County recently collected mosquitoes that tested positive for West Nile virus. This is the first confirmed positive test of mosquitoes in Nebraska. Mosquito surveillance and testing give the local health district, along with other health departments, an early indicator of where the virus may be circulating and provides valuable information about where people may come into contact with mosquitoes carrying the virus.
Multiple locations across Nebraska are routinely monitored to trap and test mosquitoes over the summer months. Human cases of West Nile are also used for surveillance; however, at this time, there have been no human cases of West Nile detected.
West Nile virus is contracted through the bite of a mosquito. Symptoms may include fever and headaches, although eight out of ten people remain asymptomatic. Severe cases of West Nile can lead to meningitis, encephalitis, disorientation, convulsions, paralysis, and potentially death. People with compromised immune systems are especially susceptible to this disease and individuals over 50 years of age are at higher risk of developing severe disease. No specific vaccines or antivirals are available for the treatment of West Nile virus infection.
Prevention is the best way to avoid getting diseases from mosquitoes. All Nebraska residents are encouraged to:
- Use an EPA-approved insect repellent that has DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
- Be careful at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
- Wear long sleeve shirts and pants, especially when out hiking and camping.
- Frequently check your property for standing water and drain items such as wagons, bird baths, flowerpots, gutters, and tires. Mosquitoes can breed in small pools of water.
- Be cautious outdoors until there are consistently low overnight temperatures, even with sudden changes in weather.