Western Nebraska Observer - Observations all along the line - Kimball & the Southern Panhandle First

Panhandle mosquitoes tests positive for West Nile Virus


A mosquito pool in the Nebraska Panhandle has recently tested positive for West Nile Virus according to a Panhandle Public Health District (PPHD) news release.

West Nile virus is spread when mosquitoes feed on an infected bird. The mosquito can then pass it on to humans through a bite as well.

This positive result indicates a potential for humans to contract the virus.

According to Laura Bateman, infection prevention coordinator at Kimball Health Services, mild infections can cause fever, headache, body aches, skin rash and swollen lymph glands. More severe infections may include a high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, occasional convulsions and paralysis.

Bateman added that a majority of those individuals who are infected do not have symptoms, however, she cautions citizens to call a doctor immediately if they experience any of these symptoms.

People with milder symptoms typically recover on their own, according to the Centers for Disease Control, although some symptoms may last for several weeks. In more severe cases, patients often need to be hospitalized to receive supportive treatment, such as intravenous fluids, pain medication, and nursing care.

While there is no medication to treat, or vaccinate against West Nile Virus, the CDC recommends over-the-counter pain relievers to reduce fever and relieve some of the symptoms.

People over 50, infants, and pregnant women are especially susceptible to this disease, according to the PPHD.

To help reduce the risk of West Nile Virus spread, Melissa Cervantes, Environmental Health Coordinator for PPHD, urges residents to follow these precautions to protect themselves and their families:

Use a mosquito repellant that contains DEET.

Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, shoes and socks.

Take extra precautions when going outdoors at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.

Drain standing water.

Add larvicides to animal drinking troughs.

Keep window screens in good repair.

Due to the positive mosquito indication, PPHD will no longer accept dead birds for testing. If citizens suspect a bird has died of West Nile it should be sealed in a ziploc bag and disposed of.

Citizens are further cautioned not to touch a bird with bare hands, instead use gloves or an inverted bag to handle and dispose of it.

While birds are no longer accepted for testing, PPHD will continue to take reports.

For more information, please contact Cervantes at 308-487-3600 ext. 108.


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