HASTINGS – The South Heartland District Health Department (SHDHD) reports that a collection of mosquitoes trapped in Adams County on August 17, 2021, has tested positive for West Nile Virus.
According to Michele Bever, SHDHD health director, and Jeff Hassenstab, director of Parks & Recreation for the City of Hastings, the two departments have been partnering for a number of years to monitor Adams County mosquitoes for West Nile virus. “South Heartland works with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (NDHHS) to trap mosquitoes, then we share the results that come to us with the City of Hastings,” Bever said.
Hassenstab said the City of Hastings uses the information they receive from the health department to help make decisions about mosquito control efforts. “We also continue to encourage residents to take their own precautions against mosquito bites,” he said.
In 2020, 14 humans and 2 horses tested positive for West Nile virus, according to NDHHS (https://dhhs.ne.gov/Pages/West-Nile-Virus-Data.aspx). Ten Nebraskans required hospitalization due to West Nile infection and one death occurred. This year to date, only one clinical case and one case identified through blood donation have been reported in Nebraska. Neither case from this year and none of the cases from last year were in the South Heartland Health District region of Adams, Clay, Nuckolls and Webster counties.
According to Bever, West Nile Virus is spread through the bite of an infected mosquito and mosquitoes are most active from dusk to dawn. “The best way to fight back is to use an insect repellant containing DEET any time you will be outside,” she said.
Symptoms of West Nile illness are usually mild, including fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash. However, the symptoms may be more severe, sometimes causing permanent neurological damage, and may result in death.
South Heartland District Health Department recommends that people avoid being outside from dusk to dawn, when mosquitoes are most active, and to protect themselves from mosquito bites by wearing lightweight protective clothing and by using an insect repellent containing DEET, IR3535, Oil of Eucalyptus or Picaridin.
Hassenstab encourages residents to frequently drain containers and other standing or stagnant water around their homes to disrupt the breeding cycle of mosquitoes.
For more information, visit www.southheartlandhealth.org or call 1-877-238-7595.