The Kansas Department of Health and Environment on Friday issued high and moderate risk warnings for West Nile virus infections for the entire state of Kansas.
North-central, south-central and southwest Kansas are at a high risk for the virus, while northeast, southeast and northwest Kansas are at a moderate risk of infection, the KDHE said.
While no one in Kansas has been infected at this time, KDHE is recommending several prevention measures.
The virus can be spread to people through mosquito bites, but it isn’t spread from person to person. About one in five people who are infected develop a fever and other symptoms. About one out of 150 infected people develop swelling of the brain or brain tissue that in some cases can result in death. There are no vaccines or medications to treat the virus, KDHE said, and people who have had the virus before are considered immune.
“Know your risk and take action to prevent mosquito bites to protect yourself and your family against West Nile virus,” said Greg Lakin, a physician and the state’s health officer.
KDHE recommends the following measures:
• Visit the KDHE WNV website (http://www.kdheks.gov/epi/arboviral_disease.htm) weekly to learn about the current risk level.
• When outdoors, use insect repellent containing an EPA-registered active ingredient on skin and clothing, including DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535.
• Many mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn. Be sure to use insect repellent and wear long sleeves and pants at these times or consider staying indoors.
• The elderly or those with a weakened immune system should consider limiting their exposure outside during dusk and dawn, when the Culex species mosquitoes are most active.
• Make sure you have good screens on your windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out.
• Get rid of mosquito breeding sites by emptying standing water from flower pots, buckets and barrels. Change the water in pet dishes and replace the water in bird baths weekly.
• Drill holes in tire swings so water drains out. Keep children’s wading pools empty and on their sides when they aren’t being used.
• Horses can also be infected with the virus. Talk with your veterinarian about vaccinating your horse to protect them.
Most infections occur in late summer and early fall, the KDHE said. Although there have been no cases of West Nile reported to KDHE in 2018, there have been more than 600 cases of the most severe form of it and 30 deaths in Kansas from 1999 to 2017.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides additional information about West Nile virus and preventing mosquito bites at http://www.cdc.gov/features/StopMosquitoes/.
For questions about West Nile virus or other Arboviral diseases, contact the KDHE Epidemiology hotline at 877-427-7317.