Half of Kansas goes from high to moderate risk for West Nile virus

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Kansas health officials have revised their West Nile virus risk level for most of northern Kansas and the southeast part of the state.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment's new risk map shows south-central, southwest and northeast Kansas are still at high risk while the other portions have been downgraded to moderate risk.

No human cases have been reported as of August 3.

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Health officials say the entire state of Kansas is now at high risk for West Nile infections. 

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment's updated risk map shows the southwest, north-central and northeastern portions of the state were upgraded from moderate to high risk. Other areas were already at high risk.

No human cases have been reported as of July 20

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.