Recent rains in the Pratt area have been most welcome. The usual aftermath — the season's first hatch of mosquitoes — is less so.

Why worry?

Besides the annoying whine, the itchy bite and a decided “ick” factor of something sucking your blood, mosquitoes can make you sick. Ninety-one cases of West Nile Virus, caused by the bite of an infected mosquito, were diagnosed in Kansas in 2013. Seven Kansans died.


• 70 to 80 percent of people who become infected with West Nile Virus do not develop any symptoms.

• About 1 in 5 people infected will develop fever, headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or rash. Most people with this type of West Nile disease recover completely, but fatigue and weakness can last for weeks or months.

• Less than 1 percent of people who are infected will develop a serious illness, such as encephalitis or meningitis. Symptoms of these illnesses include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors, seizures or paralysis. Recovery can take several weeks or months, and some of the neurologic effects may be permanent. About 10 percent of people who develop neurologic infection will die.

How to avoid being bitten

n Of products registered with the Environmental Protection Agency, those containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535 and some oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products provided longer-lasting protection. The higher the percentage of the active ingredient, the longer the protection will last.

• Apply only to exposed skin and/or clothing. Do not apply under clothing.

• Do not apply directly to face; spray hands and apply to face.

• Use the same technique for small children. Avoid spraying children’s hands, because of their tendency to put their hands in their mouths. Do not use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus on children under the age of three.

• EPA does not recommend additional precautions for pregnant or nursing women.

• Use just enough to cover; heavy application does not give better protection.

• Reapply as directed, or if you start to get mosquito bites.

• Repellent can be used with sunscreen. In general, apply the sunscreen first. It is not recommended to use a combination product, because repellent does not need to be reapplied as often as sunscreen.

New threat in 2014?

 Chikungunya virus is transmitted to people by mosquitoes. Outbreaks have occurred in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Indian and Pacific Oceans. In late 2013, it was found for the first time in the Caribbean islands. It is not currently found in the United States, but there is risk it will be imported to new areas by infected travelers.

Travelers should prevent mosquito bites.