West Nile virus has been confirmed for the first time this year in a sample of mosquitoes collected in Douglas County, health officials said Friday.
The sample was collected from Seymour Smith Park near 68th and Harrison Streets. Otherwise, the mosquito season so far has been a slow one, with lower-than-usual populations of the insects reported since the Douglas County Health Department began its annual surveillance in May.
Fewer than 10 positive samples have been reported in the state this year. The county has not had a report of a human case of West Nile this year. Seven cases were confirmed last year, down from 71 cases in 2018.
The positive sample means residents should take steps to protect themselves from mosquito bites until the first hard frost brings an end to mosquito season.
“This is a late start to what we anticipate will be a short West Nile season,” Adi Pour, the Health Department’s director, said in a statement.
Most people infected by a mosquito will have no symptoms or only mild flu-like symptoms. Fewer than 1 in 150 people bitten by an infected mosquito will have a serious illness. However, people age 50 and older and those with weakened immune systems are more vulnerable to the disease and more likely to experience serious consequences.
To reduce the risk of mosquito bites, apply a mosquito repellent containing DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus; minimize activities outdoors at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active; and wear loose, long-sleeved shirts as well as pants, shoes and socks when outdoors.
To prevent mosquitoes from breeding near you, remove standing water, empty buckets and pet dishes daily and bird baths weekly, clear weeds and anything else that might keep water from draining, follow proper swimming pool maintenance procedures and keep water moving in ponds and fountains.Nebraska State Parks