The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) is reporting the first reported case of West Nile virus for 2016. The individual that tested positive is an adult from Thomas County.
West Nile virus is be spread to people primarily through bites from infected Culex species mosquitoes, although the virus has been detected in more than 60 different mosquito species in the U.S. West Nile virus is not contagious from person to person. The Culex species are known to transmit West Nile virus; they are not known to transmit Zika virus.
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 and other mosquito-borne diseases:
- When you are outdoors, use insect repellent containing an EPA-registered active ingredient, including DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535. Follow the directions on the package.
- Many mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn, but can bite at any hour. Be sure to use insect repellent and wear long sleeves and pants at peak 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. In 2015, there were 34 cases of West Nile virus in Kansas, and more than half of these cases were hospitalized.