The Three Rivers Public Health Department has announced the district’s second positive West Nile mosquito pool at a trapping site within Douglas County.
The second positive result comes only a week after the district’s first positive pool result in Dodge County in a year that, according to Three Rivers Executive Director Terra Uhing, has been very active in terms of instances of West Nile Virus.
“We know that we have a huge increase in the number of cases this year,” she said. “We’ve already had a West Nile related death, and now we’ve had our second positive mosquito pool…so it’s something people definitely need to be aware of.”
In August, Three Rivers officials reported that a resident within the department’s jurisdiction – encompassing Dodge, Saunders and Washington counties – had died from complications of West Nile Virus. That individual was confirmed to be over 65-years-old and had been previously hospitalized for underlying health conditions.
Uhing would not confirm to exact location of the most recent positive mosquito pool result prior to notification of residents in that area, but she did confirm that the first positive mosquito pool result which was reported on September 12 was located within the city of Fremont very near to the health department itself.
“The first one was actually right here, basically in our backyard where we have a trapping site,” she said.
Along with the West Nile related death and positive mosquito pool results, there have been 15 confirmed cases of West Nile throughout the three counties that Three Rivers serves.
Of those cases, 8 have been in Dodge County, 4 in Washington County and 3 in Saunders County.
Uhing added that out of 13 confirmed cases – 9 have been found to be neuro-invasive. Two of the total 15 confirmed cases, were confirmed earlier this week and therefore have not yet been determined to be neuro-invasive.
“The two new cases were just reported this week, so we don’t know yet if those are neuro-invasive or not,” she said. “But, over half of these cases have been neuro-invasive, which is the more severe form of the disease. That can lead to meningitis or encephalitis, there are symptoms where people will get weakness on one side of the body or other forms of confusion.”
Uhing reminds residents that the best way for the public to protect themselves from West Nile virus is to avoid mosquitoes.
“There is no vaccine, there is no medication that can treat it, because it’s a virus and it needs to run it’s course,” she said. “So the key is really to try not to get bitten by mosquitoes, and I know that sounds goofy, but it really is the best way to prevent it.”
Transmission of West Nile virus occurs through the bite of a mosquito that has acquired the virus by feeding on an infected bird. In turn, the mosquito can pass the virus to humans. You cannot get West Nile virus from a dead bird.
Most people who are infected have no symptoms or only mild flu-like symptoms. About one out of 150 people infected with West Nile virus become severely ill. However, people over 50, and those with weakened immune systems, are especially vulnerable to the disease and are more likely to experience serious consequences.
People can reduce their risk by:
- Using a repellent that contains DEET. The 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.
Three Rivers also offers free mosquito wipes and mosquito dunks to residents of Dodge, Washington, and Saunders County, which can be picked up at the department located at 2400 N. Lincoln Ave in Fremont.
For more information, call Three Rivers Public Health Department at 402-727-5396 or visit www.threeriverspublichealth.org.