West Nile Virus Surveillance

In order to protect public health, the Lincoln Lancaster County Health Department performs mosquito surveillance annually. This has resulted in the detection of the West Nile Virus Disease in Lancaster County since the early 2000s.

Mosquitoes acquire the virus from infected birds and pass it on to other birds, animals and people. Mosquitoes feed on human and animal blood or plant juices. Only female mosquitoes bite to get a blood meal to develop eggs.

West Nile Virus and Your Health

Mild cases of West Nile infection may include a slight fever and/or headache. Severe infections are marked by a rapid onset of a high fever and head & body aches, and usually occur 5 to 15 days after exposure. There is no specific treatment of viral infections, other than to treat the symptoms and provide supportive care. Those who are at highest risk of becoming seriously ill from West Nile infection are persons who are over the age of 50.

Reducing Risk

Mosquitoes can develop in any standing water that lasts more than 4 days. To reduce the mosquito population around your home and property, reduce or eliminate all standing water and debris:

  • Dispose of tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or similar water-holding containers.
  • Clear brush from around your home.
  • Remove all discarded tires on your property. Used tires are a common breeding site.
  • Drill holes in the bottoms of recycling containers that are kept outdoors.
  • Clean clogged roof gutters regularly.
  • Turn over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use.
  • Change the water in bird baths several times a week.
  • Clean vegetation and debris from the edges of ponds.
  • Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs.
  • Drain water from pool covers.
  • Use landscaping to eliminate stagnant water that collects on your property.
  • Cover rain barrels properly.

To report any standing water that may be breeding mosquitoes contact the water quality program.

Protecting Yourself

  • Avoid being outdoors at dusk and dawn, the times when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Wear shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt when outdoors for long periods of time.
  • Make sure all windows and doors have screens, and that all screens are in good repair.
  • Consider the use of a mosquito repellent containing DEET (No greater than 30%), oil of lemon eucalyptus or Picaridin when it is necessary to be outdoors.
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