West Nile Season Approaches in Nebraska

Culex tarsalis, male with a broken wing in Orange, California. (Photo by Wikimedia Commons)
July 31, 2019 - 11:52am

The last two weeks of August are the peak time for reports of West Nile cases in Nebraska. In 2018, Nebraska had the most total cases of West Nile in the country.

Since 1999, Nebraska ranks the fourth-highest state for West Nile cases behind Texas, California and Colorado, according to CDC data. Tom Safranek, Nebraska state epidemiologist, estimates almost every county in Nebraska could confirm West Nile.

“It is imperative at this point that everyone take precautions to reduce or eliminate mosquito bites,” Safranek said.

Douglas and Phelps counties both confirmed West Nile in standing water earlier in July and there have also been three reported cases in humans and one was a fatality.

West Nile virus neuroinvasive disease incidence reported to ArboNET, by state, United States, 2018. (Graph by CDC.)

Safranek said the record number of mosquitoes from flooding, won’t affect the amount of West Nile, because only a specific species of mosquito carries West Nile, the culex tarsalis. Safranek said there is also a cost motive to reduce West Nile, as it can be expensive to treat.

“It’s a disease that we really stand to gain a lot if we can reduce the numbers,” Safranek said.

The Department of Health and Human Services encourages everyone to “fight the bite.” Health officials recommend avoiding mosquito-ridden areas, using repellant, eliminating mosquito breeding pools and wearing long sleeves.



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