Residents urged to use mosquito spray, dump standing water
The first reported Kansas case of West Nile virus this summer is a person in Barton County, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment announced Friday.
Although no further details about the case are available, Barton County Health Director Shelly Schneider said residents should take note and protect themselves from mosquito bites.
“It’s in the community so we know we need to be extra cautious by using mosquito spray when we go outside and dumping all of our standing water frequently,” she said. It’s been said that mosquito larva can breed in as little as a pop bottle cap of water, Schneider noted. Dumping standing water and wearing insect repellent are preventative measures that can be taken without much effort.
• When you are outdoors, use insect repellent containing an EPA-registered active ingredient on skin and clothing, including DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535, the KDHE recommends. Follow the directions on the package.
• 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 during these hours.
• Get rid of mosquito breeding sites by emptying standing water from flowerpots, buckets and barrels. Change the water in pet dishes and replace the water in birdbaths weekly.
Drill holes in tire swings so water drains out. Keep children’s wading pools empty and on their sides when they are not being used.
• The elderly or immunocompromised 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.
West Nile virus has arrived early in Kansas this year, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment in Topeka.
KDHE also has discovered that four Culex species mosquito pools collected from traps in Reno, Shawnee and Johnson counties are positive for West Nile virus in preliminary testing, and that two birds in Shawnee County have tested positive for West Nile virus. These findings may indicate that West Nile virus transmission could occur much earlier in 2017 than in previous years.
The Culex species are known to transmit West Nile virus but are not known to transmit Zika virus.
• Birds generally are not tested for West Nile virus in Kansas, and KDHE will not be collecting information about dead birds. If you find a dead bird, KDHE recommends that you wear gloves, place the bird in a plastic bag, and dispose of it in the garbage.
West Nile virus can be spread to people through bites from infected mosquitoes, but it is not contagious from person to person. Symptoms range from a slight headache and low-grade fever to swelling of the brain or brain tissue and in rare cases, death.
People who have had West Nile virus before are considered immune.
Risk level high
KDHE has developed West Nile virus risk levels to help guide prevention efforts for both communities and individuals. These risk level reports will be posted weekly at http://www.kdheks.gov/epi/arboviral_disease.htm. All three regions of Kansas are currently at the high risk level.
Cases are most common in the late summer and early fall. In 2012, there were 57 cases of West Nile virus in the state, the most cases since the virus first made its way into Kansas in 2002. Last year, 34 cases were identified in Kansas. Among these cases, 21 were hospitalized, and there were five deaths. In addition to tracking cases of human illnesses caused by West Nile virus, KDHE assesses the potential for West Nile virus by conducting mosquito surveillance, including laboratory testing.