Douglas County Gears Up for West Nile Surveillance
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† The Douglas County Health Department will again provide surveillance for the West Nile Virus, thanks to CDC funding.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† ‚ÄúTwo keys in tracking the West Nile Virus in Douglas County are birds and bugs,‚ÄĚ Health Director Dr. Adi Pour said.
check the mosquito population and learn what species are active, the Health
Department traps mosquitoes every two weeks. Those mosquitoes are shipped to
the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services to be tested for the West
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† The Health Department also will collect dead birds to be tested for the virus. The birds of greatest interest are crows, black-billed magpies, and blue jays. Red-tailed hawks, peregrine falcons, and owls also can be infected. The collections will stop after the county records two positive tests.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† To be used for testing, birds must appear to have died within the last 24 hours and not be decomposed. The public can help by calling the Douglas County Health Department at 402-444-7481 to report this information.
¬†Here are some ideas from the Health Department to help prevent mosquito bites:
- Apply a mosquito repellant that includes DEET. The CDC also has approved picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus. The CDC generally recommends that when using sunscreen and repellant, the sunscreen should be applied first. Products that combine sunscreen and repellant are not recommended.
- Wear loose, long-sleeved shirts, plus pants, shoes and socks when outdoors.
- Avoid outdoor activity around dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
- Remove standing water or report it to the Health Department for treatment.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†The West Nile Virus can be spread to people if they are bitten by mosquitoes that picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird, but only a small percentage of mosquitoes carry the virus.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†‚ÄúThere is no way to predict how many West Nile cases we will have in Douglas County this year,‚ÄĚ Dr. Pour said. ‚ÄúWhat we do know is how to reduce the threat.‚ÄĚ
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†In recent years, the number of West Nile virus cases in Douglas County has ranged from 69 in 2003 to a low of two cases a year later. Last year the county reported 17 cases of West Nile virus infection.