The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has issued notices that this summer could be particularly bad for mosquitoes, which also could mean an uptick in the number of potential West Nile virus cases, Ellis County Health Administrator Butch Schlyer said at Monday’s Ellis County Commission meeting.
“KDHE does anticipate, from studies they’ve done, that this is going to be a bad year for mosquitoes, specifically the Culex mosquito, which means they are anticipating a bad year for West Nile virus,” Schlyer said during his department’s monthly report. “We might see a resurgence of that illness again, and they said that would probably be statewide.”
KDHE also sent the county notice in the past week there have been two additional cases of the Zika virus in Kansas, bringing the total number to four. All of those cases have been the result of international travel to nations affected by the virus, which also is transmitted by mosquitos. That particular species of mosquitoes, however, is not native to Kansas.
Schlyer previously said residents should take precautions to repel mosquitos and prevent illness this summer. Precautions include using insect repellent or wearing pants and long sleeves while outside.
In other health department news, county staff no longer will be the primary medical service providers for inmates in the Ellis County jail. The county this spring contracted with Advanced Correctional Healthcare, a national, privately owned company that specializes in jail-based medical services.
These services at times can be extensive: In May alone, the health department set up or refilled nearly 400 medicine boxes for inmates. Staff also provided services such as lab work and health consultations.
The transition was effective Thursday, Schlyer said, noting there likely will be an adjustment period as the new company is reducing patients’ medications in some cases.
“They have drastically cut down medications that the inmates were taking, and of course, they did anticipate the inmates not being happy with that. … They said it would take probably about eight weeks to get through this whole curve before everyone settles down,” Schlyer said. “When they’re providing their own pharmacy, they’re going to watch what meds and how much they’re giving the people, and they started right away with that.”