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Kansas announces first human case of West Nile virus this year

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Thursday, August 8, 2013, at 9:04 p.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, June 24, 2014, at 3:06 p.m.

Tips for staying safe during mosquito season

• Use insect repellent containing deet or picaridin on skin. Follow label directions.

• Empty standing water from rain gutters, tarps, old tires, buckets and other places where rainwater is trapped. Use larvicide in low-lying areas where water cannot be removed.

• Refresh water for bird baths, pet bowls and wading pools at least every three days.

• Limit outdoor activities at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.

• Wear protective clothing when practical (long sleeves and pants).

Source: Kansas Department of Health and Environment

State health authorities announced late Thursday that they have discovered the first human case of West Nile virus in Kansas this year.

In addition, a virus-infected mosquito was trapped in a Sedgwick County surveillance program.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment identified the infected person only as a male adult from Atchison County. No details were provided on the man’s medical condition.

The KDHE tracks all cases of human illness from West Nile and conducts limited trapping and laboratory analysis of mosquitoes, the major carrier of the disease.

Last year, the program identified 57 human cases of West Nile, the most since the disease first appeared in the state in 2002.

This year, Sedgwick County authorities are urging residents to take extra precautions because of a rise in mosquito population.

Standing water breeds mosquitoes, and this has been a very rainy summer. Officials are asking residents to treat any ponds on their property and eliminate standing water that collects in flower pots, bird baths, folded tarps, old tires and other outdoor rain-catchers.

In addition, they are advising people to consider staying inside at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active. They recommend wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts and using a repellent when outside during those peak times.

About eight out of 10 people who become infected with the West Nile virus will not develop any symptoms. However, the disease can be deadly for those who are especially susceptible.

When symptoms do surface, it usually happens about three to 14 days following a bite from a carrier mosquito. The mild form of the disease can include low-grade fever, headache, nausea, body aches, swollen lymph glands and a rash on the chest, stomach and back.

More-severe and rarer symptoms can include disorientation, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness, paralysis and coma.

There is no direct treatment for the virus. Mild cases generally clear up in a few days without treatment.

Those with severe symptoms may need to be hospitalized for care such as intravenous fluids, breathing assistance and nursing care.

In severe cases, symptoms can continue for weeks and cause permanent damage to the victim’s nervous system.

Reach Dion Lefler at 316-268-6527 or dlefler@wichitaeagle.com.

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