Douglas County health officials have confirmed the first case of West Nile virus in the county this year.
The man, who has been hospitalized, is older than 75, officials said. He traveled within Nebraska to an area where mosquito pools have tested positive for the virus. Officials think he may have been exposed on that trip.
So far this year, no mosquitoes in Douglas County have tested positive for the West Nile virus, officials said Monday.
The man is one of four Nebraskans who have tested positive for West Nile in 2013, state records show.
In 2012, 193 Nebraskans tested positive for the virus. Seventy-eight of those were hospitalized and four died.
In Iowa, two West Nile cases have been confirmed this year. Last year, Iowa reported 31 cases but no deaths.
The West Nile virus infects people who are bitten by mosquitoes that have been feeding on an infected bird.
Adi Pour, Douglas County’s health director, said this is about the time of year that the county gets its first West Nile case. She encouraged people to protect themselves from mosquito bites.
To help avoid bites, officials suggest you:
• Apply a mosquito repellent containing DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Be sure to follow label instructions.
• Minimize your activities outdoors at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
• Wear loose, long-sleeved shirts, plus pants, shoes and socks when you are outdoors.
• Remove standing water around your home or report it to the Douglas County Health Department. That includes water in buckets, pet dishes and bird baths.
Most people who are infected have no symptoms or only mild flu-like symptoms, health officials said. Fewer than one of 150 people who are bitten by an infected mosquito and become ill will have a serious illness. People older than 50 and others with weakened immune systems are especially vulnerable and more likely to suffer serious consequences.