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Panhandle mosquitoes test positive for West Nile

July 22, 2018

PALLIANCE — A Panhandle mosquito trap site has recently tested positive for West Nile virus.

The positive site was in Box Butte County. These positive mosquitoes found at the trap site gives Panhandle Public Health District (PPHD) an indicator of the location of the virus and the potential for it to be spread through human contact, according to a press release. Several counties in the Panhandle have been routinely testing sites to trap and monitor mosquitoes over the summer months. Human cases of West Nile are also used for monitoring, with a case just recently found in Scotts Bluff County.

West Nile virus is contracted through the bite of a mosquito. Birds can also be secondary carriers for the disease. West Nile demonstrates flu-like symptoms that can include a slight fever and headaches. Severe symptoms of West Nile can lead to encephalitis, which can cause inflammation of the brain, disorientation, convulsions and paralysis. People over 50, infants and pregnant women are especially susceptible to this disease.

Prevention is the best method to avoid contracting diseases from mosquitoes. PPHD always recommends using insect repellent that has DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Be careful at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active. Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants, especially when out hiking and camping. Mosquitoes can also breed in small pools of water, so frequently check your property for standing water and drain items such as kid wagons, bird baths, flower pots, gutters and tires.

The positive mosquito trap site results in PPHD no longer accepting dead birds for testing. If you suspect you have a bird that has died of unknown origins related to West Nile, dispose of it by sealing it in a Ziploc bag and throw it away. Do not touch a bird with your bare hands, use gloves or an inverted bag to handle and dispose of. Birds can still be called in to PPHD to be reported to the state but will not be collected.

If you have any questions regarding birds or West Nile virus, call Melissa Haas at 308-487-3600 ext. 108 or e-mail mhaas@pphd.org.

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