West Nile Virus
West Nile Virus* (WNV) is a disease/virus that is carried by birds and can make those who catch it very sick, disabled or can even cause death. When a Mosquito bites a bird that already has the virus, the virus is given to the mosquito. Humans then get the virus when they are bitten by mosquitoes that are carrying the virus.
What are signs or symptoms of WNV?
Symptoms or signs can range from mild fever (high body temperature), headache, body aches, rash and swollen glands to dangerously high fever, bad headache, stiff neck, lack of strength, and confusion or brain fog.
How can I to protect myself and my family?
- Avoid outdoor activities at dusk and at dawn, when mosquitoes are most active
- Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, socks and shoes when outside
- Use an insect repellent or bug spray with DEET (choose the right repellent for your age)
- Get rid of all standing water (water in tires, buckets, swimming pools) and if you cannot we suggest that you use a pesticide that will kill the eggs
- Fix holes in window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside
What is Northeast Nebraska Public Health Department (NNPHD) doing to protect our community against WNV?
Since 2006, NNPHD has been picking up dead birds and samples of mosquitoes and shipping them to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to be tested for WNV.
What should I do if I find a dead bird?
If you find a bird that has died within the past 24 hours in the counties of Cedar, Dixon, Thurston or Wayne, during the months of May – October, please call: Northeast Nebraska Public Health Department (NNPHD) at 1-800-375-2260 or 402-375-2200. Public Health is testing certain types of birds for WNV.
Please pick up the dead bird following these directions:
1. Do not touch the dead bird with bare hands.
2. Directions for picking up dead crows, magpies or blue jays:
- You will need: Rubber gloves, A bag that can seal, A water-tight bag, & ice.
- Using rubber gloves, place the bird in a bag that can seal.
- Put that bag into at least one water-tight bag.
- Put the bag on ice, away from food.
- Call NNPHD to send someone to pick up the dead bird from you for testing.
3. For any other dead bird:
If the dead bird does not look like one of the pictures above, throw away the bird using these directions:
- Call NNPHD about the dead bird
- Using rubber gloves, place the bird in a sealed bag
- Throw the bag in the garbage.
*Supported through a grant from the Nebraska and U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services
What is Zika?
Zika is a virus that usually spreads through the bite of an infected mosquito. The sickness is most often mild with symptoms or signs that last about one week, there may be no signs of sickness at all.
The Dangers of Zika
If a pregnant woman catches Zika, it can cause life threatening birth defects such as, microcephaly (very small brain) which changes normal brain growth in the unborn baby. Another birth defect Zika can cause is Guillain-Barre syndrome which damages the brain, spinal cord, and nerves.
What are the symptoms or signs of Zika Virus?
The most common symptoms or signs are:
- Fever or high body temperature
- Joint Pain
- Red Eyes
- Muscle Pain
Many people who catch Zika will not show symptoms or they will have mild symptoms that last a few days to one week.
How do people catch Zika?
Mosquito bites are the most common way of catching Zika. A person can also catch Zika by having sex with a person who has Zika. A mother can pass Zika to her unborn baby during pregnancy or when giving birth.
Is there Zika in Nebraska?
There are a few human cases of Zika in Nebraska which have been linked to travel. This means that the humans caught Zika while they were out of the state of Nebraska and came back to the state with the virus. Nebraska is a low-risk state for Zika. The most common mosquito that transmits Zika is found in tropical parts of the world and in the southern United States. Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is watching certain areas of Nebraska for mosquitoes that could also transmit Zika.
What can I do to protect myself and my family?
The best way to avoid Zika and other illnesses spread by mosquitoes is to protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites.
- Use insect repellent with DEET, or an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved insect repellent (click here for information on EPA registered insect repellent).
- Wear long sleeve shirts and long pants when outside.
- Sleep under a mosquito net when sleeping with open windows or outside.
- Fix broken screens and get rid of standing water that breeds mosquitoes.
Zika can also spread from person to person through sex. Use condoms during sex to not spread Zika to your partner.