Twelve additional cases of West Nile virus were reported to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) in the past week, bringing the total number of 2013 cases to 32. Of the 32 total cases reported in Kansas, two patients have died due to West Nile Virus.
"Cases are on the rise in Kansas. We want to bring this to everyone's attention as we expect an increase in this disease before winter is here, and we strongly encourage the use of methods that prevent mosquito bites," said Robert Moser, M.D., KDHE Secretary and State Health Officer.
As of Oct. 7, the case count by county in Kansas is: Sedgwick-7, Barton-6, Johnson-3, Sherman-2, Wyandotte-2, Atchison-1, Butler-1, Chautauqua-1, Decatur-1, Ellis-1, Logan-1, Marshall-1, Republic-1, Rice-1, Rush-1, and Saline-1. No other details about the patients or the two deaths will be provided at this time.
West Nile Virus can be spread to people through bites from infected mosquitoes, but it is not contagious from person to person. Although most persons will not develop any illness at all, symptoms can 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.
KDHE recommends the following precautions to protect against West Nile Virus:
• 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. Follow the directions on the package.
• Many mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn. Be sure to use insect repellent and • 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.
Cases are most common in the late summer and early fall months. In 2012, 57 cases of West Nile virus were reported in Kansas.
Birds 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.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides this web page with additional information about West Nile Virus and preventing mosquito bites: http://www.cdc.gov/features/StopMosquitoes/.