Officials with the Three Rivers Public Health Department (3RPHD) are warning the public to take extra vigorous precautions to prevent mosquito bites after state officials announced the number of positive tests for West Nile Virus has increased exponentially compared to 2022 statistics.
In a press release sent to local media outlets and the Tribune, officials from 3RPHD stated that, “local public health departments throughout Nebraska trap and test mosquitoes each year,” and what has been discovered this summer is stunning.
“This summer season is proving to be different than previous years. One-hundred and twelve West Nile Virus mosquito pools have been detected across Nebraska this season, as of Aug. 5,” stated Katie Schultis, the Environmental Health Coordinator and a Health Educator at the Three Rivers Public Health Department.
“During 2022, only three positive mosquito pools had been detected at this time last year. This is a large increase in the circulation of West Nile Virus in the state. Over the previous five years of mosquito testing from 2018 to 2022, Nebraska as a state averaged nine positives through week 10,” Schultis stated in the release.
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“We are more than 12 times higher than that at present. West Nile Virus is spread by the Culex species of mosquito. Mosquito surveillance in Nebraska has shown a much higher presence of Culex mosquitoes this year.”
Schultis explained in the press release that more Culex mosquitoes present in the community, “means more opportunities to be bitten” by the insects.
“This species of mosquito typically feeds from evening to morning hours. Nebraskans should take precautions to avoid contact with mosquitoes because they may spread West Nile Virus.
In order to prevent mosquito bites and protect yourself from the pesky insects, Schultis recommended the following tips and methods that all residents should employ.
- Using an insect repellant that contains DEET
- 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
- Empty and change the water in bird baths, fountains, wading pools, rain barrels and potted trays at least once a week
- Make sure window and door screens are “bug tight” and repair or replace torn screens Most people who are infected have no symptoms or only mild flu-like symptoms.
“Less than 1% of 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,” Schultis noted in the press release.
The 3RPHDS provides free-of-charge mosquito wipes and mosquito dunks to all residents of Dodge, Washington and Saunders County. Those items are available in Fremont at the Three Rivers Public Health Department offices, located at 2400 N. Lincoln Ave.
For more information, residents can telephone Three Rivers District Health Department at 402-727-5396 or visit threeriverspublichealth.org.