Kansas state health officials have reported the first human case of West Nile virus (WNV) this year in a person from Barton County.
In addition, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) discovered four Culex species mosquito pools collected from traps in Reno, Shawnee and Johnson counties that were positive for WNV in preliminary testing, and that two birds in Shawnee County have tested positive for WNV.
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.
The Culex species are known to transmit West Nile virus, but are not known to transmit Zika virus.
Based on the above findings, West Nile virus transmission could occur much earlier in 2017 than in previous years.
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. More recently, in 2016, 34 cases were identified in Kansas. Among these cases, 21 were hospitalized, and there were five deaths.
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