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Lancaster County reports its first West Nile death of the year

Lancaster County reports its first West Nile death of the year

Lancaster County has recorded its first West Nile virus death of the season, bringing to four the state’s total for 2021.

The person who died was a man in his 80s, according to the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department.

Ten cases of West Nile have been reported in that county since June. Eight have required hospitalization. Five cases were reported in 2020. One of those people died.

One case was reported in 2019, and 18 cases were reported in 2018. No West Nile deaths occurred in either of those years in Lancaster County.

Douglas County reported its first West Nile death of the year in September. The Three Rivers Public Health Department reported two deaths earlier that month.

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services on Friday listed 61 cases of West Nile for the season so far, and 12 blood donors who have tested positive for the virus. Thirty-six of those infected have been hospitalized.

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.

Mosquitoes still are active and will remain so until around the first frost, health officials said. That means it’s important that people continue to protect themselves from mosquito bites.

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Julie Anderson is a medical reporter for The World-Herald. She covers health care and health care trends and developments, including hospitals, research and treatments. Follow her on Twitter @JulieAnderson41. Phone: 402-444-1066.

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