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Area residents are urged to take precautions against illnesses such as West Nile virus which is linked to mosquitoes.

The Three Rivers Public Health Department has reported the first cases of West Nile virus infection for the 2019 season.

Both cases involved people ranging in age from 30 to 40 years old. One person, who was hospitalized, has since been released.

The health department has been trapping and testing mosquitoes for West Nile virus.

No positive mosquito pools have been identified at this time, the health department said in a prepared statement.

Three Rivers covers Dodge, Washington and Saunders counties. It has been providing surveillance in these counties, collecting certain species of dead birds to test for the virus.

It continues to take reports by phone of all the dead birds. Those of greatest interest for reporting are Corvids (American Crow, Black-billed Magpie, Blue Jay).

Transmission of West Nile virus happens through the bite of a mosquito that has acquired the virus by feeding on an infected bird.

The mosquito then can pass the virus to humans.

People cannot get West Nile from a dead bird.

The best thing individuals can do to protect against West Nile is to avoid mosquitoes.

Most people who are infected have no symptoms or only mild flu-like symptoms.

About one of 150 people infected with this virus become severely ill.

However, people over age 50, and those with weakened immune systems, are especially vulnerable to the disease. They also are more likely to experience serious consequences.

“The same protective actions that we recommend for West Nile virus are also recommended for prevention of infection with other mosquito-borne illnesses such as Zika virus,” said Amy Roberts, Three Rivers Public Health Department disease surveillance coordinator and health educator.

Recommendations for reducing the risk of illness includes:

  • Using a repellent that contains DEET. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) also has approved picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus. The CDC generally recommends that when using sunscreen and repellent, the sunscreen should be applied first. Products that combine sunscreen and repellent are not recommended.
  • Wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, shoes and socks.
  • Taking extra precautions when going outdoors at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Removing standing water where mosquitoes breed.

The health department also has free mosquito dunks for residents of Dodge, Washington and Saunders counties.

Mosquito dunks are a small, doughnut-shaped, floatable larvicide product that dissolves in water and kills mosquito larvae.

The mosquito dunks can be picked up at Three Rivers Public Health Department, 2400 N. Lincoln Ave., Fremont.

Mosquito wipes have also been distributed to various community locations throughout the Three Rivers jurisdiction.

For more information, call Three Rivers Public Health Department at 402-727-5396 or visit www.threeriverspublichealth.org.

Additional information can be found on the Department of Health & Human Services Website at: http://dhhs.ne.gov/publichealth/Pages/wnv.aspx

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News Editor

Tammy Real-McKeighan is news editor of the Fremont Tribune. She covers news, features, religion stories and writes the weekly faith-based, Spiritual Spinach column.

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