In the past few weeks, the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department (LLCHD) has received reports of six cases of West Nile Virus (WNV) in Lancaster County. Those afflicted range in age from 28 to 64 years old. Humans can be infected with the West Nile Virus after being bitten by a mosquito carrying the virus.
Prevention of bites is the best way to prevent West Nile Virus disease. The LLCHD urges people to avoid mosquito bites by following these precautions:
LLCHD also asks the public to reduce the breeding areas for mosquitoes by taking these steps:
Most people who become infected with WNV do not develop any symptoms. About one in five will develop a fever with other symptoms such as headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or rash. Most people with this type of WNV recover completely, but fatigue and weakness can last for weeks or months.
Less than one percent of those infected will develop a serious neurologic illness, such as encephalitis or meningitis, the inflammation of the brain or surrounding tissues. The symptoms of neurologic illness can include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors, seizures or paralysis. People over age 60 are at the greatest risk for severe disease, but it can occur at any age.
Also at great risk are those with medical conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension and kidney disease and those who have received organ transplants. Recovery from severe disease may take several weeks or months, and some of the neurologic effects may be permanent. The death rate for those who develop neurologic infection due to WNV is about 10 percent.
For more information on WNV, visit lincoln.ne.gov (keyword: wnv).