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By Deb Conklin
Scotts Bluff County Health Department, Administrative Assistant
Mosquitoes trapped at a site in Scotts Bluff County have recently tested positive for St. Louis encephalitis.
This is the first confirmed positive in mosquitoes in the state this year.
While St. Louis encephalitis is endemic to Nebraska, outbreaks are rare and occur only periodically. St. Louis is similar to West Nile in symptoms and transmission. The virus is found in birds which can then be contracted by mosquitoes and passed on to humans.
Symptoms include fever, headache, stiff neck, disorientation, vomiting, and tiredness. Most people will not display symptoms, such as with West Nile. Severe symptoms such as encephalitis, convulsions, and paralysis are rare and are most likely to occur in older adults or individuals with compromised immune systems. There is no specific treatment for St. Louis encephalitis. Symptoms can start to develop in an individual 5 to 15 days after being bitten by a mosquito with the infection. Individuals who feel they might have symptoms of either St. Louis or West Nile should seek medical help immediately. Reducing your risk of contracting either virus can be done with proper prevention techniques such as:
- Use a mosquito repellant that contains DEET.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, shoes and socks.
- Take extra precautions when going outdoors at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are active.
- Get rid of standing water.
To request more information regarding St. Louis encephalitis or West Nile virus, please contact Paulette Schnell, Scotts Bluff County Health Director at 308-436-6636 or Panhandle Public Health District at 308-487-3600.