TOPEKA, Kan.—The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) Division of Public Health has seen a substantial increase in the number of mosquitoes within the past week. These mosquitoes can potentially spread West Nile virus.
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. There are currently no reported cases of West Nile virus in 2013. In addition to tracking cases of human illnesses caused by West Nile virus, KDHE assesses the potential for West Nile virus by conducting limited mosquito surveillance, including laboratory testing.
Symptoms of West Nile virus infection 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:
• 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.
• Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens. Repair or replace screens that have tears. Try to keep doors and windows shut, especially at night.
• Get rid of mosquito breeding sites by emptying standing water from flower pots, buckets and barrels. Change the water in outdoor 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.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides the following web page with additional information about West Nile Virus and preventing mosquito bites: http://www.cdc.gov/features/StopMosquitoes/.