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Douglas County reports its 1st death from West Nile virus this season

Douglas County reports its 1st death from West Nile virus this season

Douglas County health officials on Wednesday reported the county’s first death from the West Nile virus.

The person who died was a man in his 80s who was hospitalized after developing symptoms in August, the Douglas County Health Department said in a press release. The man had multiple underlying conditions and died earlier this month, officials said.

“The number of West Nile cases in Douglas County is down from recent years, but the disease remains a concern,” Health Director Lindsay Huse said.

Douglas County has confirmed nine cases of the West Nile virus this year, with eight of them coming this month. All but one of the people who had West Nile were hospitalized, officials said.

People catch West Nile through the bites of mosquitoes that have fed on birds infected with the disease.

Most people who are infected with the West Nile virus have no symptoms. Roughly one in five will develop a fever, headache and a rash but are likely to fully recover, health officials said. About one person in 150 who is infected will develop a severe illness such as encephalitis or meningitis.

Douglas County had a record 71 confirmed cases of West Nile virus in 2018, but only two cases last year and 11 the previous year.

Last week, the Three Rivers Public Health Department, which includes Dodge, Saunders and Washington Counties, reported two deaths from the mosquito-borne virus. The first of those two deaths was the first in the state attributable to the West Nile virus.

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Bob Glissmann helps cover public safety and weather events as an editor on The World-Herald's breaking news desk. Follow him on Twitter @BobGlissmann. Phone: 402-444-1109.

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