Nearly a dozen human cases of West Nile Virus have been confirmed in the region served by the West Central District Health Department.
That’s according to figures released Wednesday by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. Those showed 10-12 positive human cases of WNV had been identified in an area consisting of Lincoln, Logan and McPherson counties.
The news comes on the heels of an announcement that an individual died of WNV in the area served by the Southwest Nebraska Public Health Department in McCook.
That district, which consists of Chase, Dundy, Frontier, Furnas, Hayes, Hitchcock, Perkins and Red Willow counties, has had a total of five confirmed human cases of WNV.
So far, 114 people have tested positive and two people have died in Nebraska this year as a result of the virus. That’s compared to 226 positive human cases and five deaths in the state in 2013.
The virus is transmitted through mosquito bites. It was detected in Lincoln County in July when it cropped up in a group of mosquitoes collected and submitted for testing.
The WCDHD traps the insects every two weeks, May through October. The peak time for WNV is August through September, which is good news for Nebraskans.
“We’re close to the end of WNV season,” said Leah Bucco-White, public information officer for HHS. “Activity usually peaks around Labor Day and then we see it start to decline.”
According to the Mayo Clinic, most people infected with WNV don’t experience symptoms or exhibit only minor ones, such as fever and a mild headache. Those usually disappear on their own.
The virus can, however, develop into a life-threatening illness that includes inflammation of the brain. Severe signs such as a pounding headache, fever, disorientation and sudden weakness require immediate medical attention.