Half of Kansas at high risk for West Nile virus

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Health officials have revised their West Nile virus risk level for northern Kansas. 

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment's updates risk map shows the northwest portion of the state has been upgraded from moderate to high risk while north-central and northeast Kansas have been downgraded from high to moderate. 

South-central and southeast Kansas remain at high risk. 

Click here for the KDHE's latest Surveillance and Transmission Risk Report for the week ending on July 20. No human cases of West Nile have been reported.

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Kansas health officials report the eastern two-thirds of the state is at high risk for West Nile virus infections. 

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment said in its last weekly Surveillance and Transmission Risk Report on July 13 that recent flooding throughout the state would cause an increase in the mosquito populations over the next several weeks.

"An increase in temperatures means it will take less time for mosquitoes to mature from eggs to biting adults," the report says. "We expect an increase in risk of West Nile virus transmission over the next several weeks."

No human cases have been reported in Kansas as of July 20.

Here's a graphic showing the West Nile risk level (red is high and orange is moderate):

The KDHE says there has been a significant increase in the number of Culex species mosquitoes trapped and recent high temperatures have increased the risk level to high.

West Nile virus can be spread to people through mosquito bites, but it is not spread from person to person. About one in five people who are infected develop a fever and other symptoms. About one out of 150 infected people develop swelling of the brain or brain tissue, that in some cases, can result in death.

There are no vaccines or medications to treat West Nile in humans, the KDHE says. People who have had the virus before are considered immune.

KDHE recommends the following prevention measures:

  • Visit the KDHE WNV website weekly to learn about the current WNV risk level.
  • When you are outdoors, use insect repellent containing an EPA-registered active ingredient on skin and clothing, including DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, 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.
  • The elderly or those with a weakened immune system should consider limiting their exposure outside during dusk and dawn, when the Culex species mosquitoes are most active.
  • 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.
  • Horses can also be infected with WNV. Talk with your veterinarian about vaccinating your horse to protect them against WNV.

For questions about West Nile virus or other Arboviral diseases contact the KDHE Epidemiology hotline at 877-427-7317.

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