|Potential for West Nile here again; precautions urged|
|Written by Wauneta Breeze|
|Thursday, 14 July 2011 20:47|
By Carolyn Lee
The Imperial Republican
As area residents spend time outdoors with summer activities, Southwest Nebraska Public Health Department (SWNPHD) is issuing reminders that precautions against West Nile virus should be a priority. West Nile is spread through the bite of a mosquito that has contracted the virus from an infected bird.
Myra Stoney, director of SWNPHD, said last week that no reports of the virus have been made in its eight-county area yet. However, she noted that Dawson County has a possible infected mosquito report. The mosquitoes were collected June 14.
Two other counties in Nebraska also have reports so far, according to state officials.
In Chase County, Mason Holmes, a junior at Chase County Schools, is trapping mosquitoes for testing.
Helena Janousek, health educator at SWNPHD, said, “One of your best defenses is to apply mosquito repellent” to protect against mosquito bites.
By using repellent, it allows people to continue to play, work and enjoy the outdoors with a lower risk of getting bit. Avoid outdoor activity around dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are more active.
The most effective repellents contain DEET, which can be applied to clothing or skin.
Other precautions include wearing shoes and socks, long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
Make sure all windows and doors in the home have screens in good repair to keep mosquitoes out.
Eliminating the potential for breeding grounds around the house and spraying insecticide where adult mosquitoes hide will help reduce the mosquito menace around properties.
Tips include: drain children’s wading pools when not in use; replace water in bird baths every three to four days;
drill a hole in tire swings so water can drain out; check for clogged rain gutters and clean them out; remove discarded tires and other items that could collect water; clean vegetation and debris from the edges of ponds; and dispose of cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or similar water-holding containers.
Most people who are infected with West Nile virus show no symptoms or experience mild illness such as a fever, headache and body aches before fully recovering.
Severe cases may cause encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) resulting in permanent neurological damage and can be fatal.
Symptoms include the rapid onset of severe headache, high fever, stiff neck, confusion, loss of consciousness and muscle weakness.
SWNPHD is collecting dead birds for state testing until October 2011. This will help pubic health officials monitor the human health risk for West Nile virus.
If you find a dead bird that died of an unknown reason and is in good condition, contact SWNPHD at (308) 345-4223.
Stoney said SWNPHD will pick up the bird.
The city of Imperial has sprayed for mosquitoes several times already this summer. City Clerk/Administrator Jo Leyland said that as in the past, the city will continue to spray on Wednesday evenings, weather permitting.
She said the city isn’t always able to notify residents of the spraying. When possible, notification goes out on registered phone lines.