HASTINGS and KEARNEY – The South Heartland District Health Department reported that three residents have tested positive for the West Nile Virus. The Two Rivers Public Health Department also reported their first positive case of the virus. August and September are when the most cases occur but health officials say that cases can sometimes linger all the way into November.
The virus is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito and it is important to reduce the risk of being bitten by a mosquito. There are many different ways to reduce the risk, including wearing long sleeve t-shirts and pants, especially between dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active. Wearing insect repellent containing DEET and draining any standing water, which is where mosquitoes breed.
Symptoms of a West Nile infection can include fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes a rash on the chest, stomach and back. These symptoms typically last a few days. Approximately one in one hundred and fifty people will develop severe illness. These symptoms can include high fever, severe headache, neck stiffness, disorientation, paralysis, coma, and death. These symptoms may last several weeks; the neurological effects can be permanent.