A longtime listener and caller to KINA’s “Coffee Talk” is the first person in Kansas this year to contract the West Nile Virus. Mary Powell of the Ash Grove area, also known as “The Barnyard Mare”, called the radio program Wednesday morning to let listeners know she had the virus, and warned anyone who spends time outside to protect themselves from mosquitoes. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment issued the following release late Wednesday afternoon to confirm the virus was located in Lincoln County:
TOPEKA, Kan. – The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) is reporting the first reported case of West Nile virus for 2015. The individual that tested positive is an adult from Lincoln County.
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.
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, para-menthane-diol or IR3535. 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.
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.
West Nile virus cases are most common in the late summer and early fall months. Through mosquito surveillance conducted in Sedgwick County, we have seen an increase in mosquitoes that can spread West Nile Virus and therefore it is not surprising to see a case this early in the summer. In 2014, there were 54 cases of West Nile virus in Kansas. In addition to tracking cases of human illnesses caused by West Nile virus, KDHE assesses the potential for West Nile virus by conducting limited mosquito surveillance, including laboratory testing. At this time, there has not been a positive mosquito sample 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: www.cdc.gov/features/StopMosquitoes/ or visit the KDHE website: www.kdheks.gov.
West Nile virus case counts are updated each Tuesday on our website here: www.kdheks.gov/epi/case_reports_by_county.htm.