For Immediate Release
Miranda Steele, KDHE, 785-296-5795
TOPEKA—The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) today learned that there are five confirmed cases of West Nile Virus (WNV) in the state. Health officials here say an additional 14 cases reported are probable. Of the 19 total cases reported in Kansas, one patient has died due to West Nile Virus.
"Sadly, someone in Kansas has died due to West Nile virus disease. In many places around the country, including Kansas, cases are on the rise. We want to bring this to everyone's attention as we expect an increase in this disease before winter is here, and we strongly encourage the use of methods that prevent mosquito bites," said Robert Moser, M.D., KDHE Secretary and State Health Officer.
As of noon today, Aug. 24, the case count by county in Kansas is: Sedgwick-12, Douglas-1, Harvey-1, Pottowatomie-1, Reno-1, Stafford-1, Sumner-1 and Trego-1. No other details about the patients or the one death will be provided at this time.
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.
KDHE recommends the following precautions to protect against West Nile Virus:
Cases are most common in the late summer and early fall months. In 2011, one confirmed case of West Nile virus was reported in Kansas. The three-year median for WNV for 2008-2010 was five cases. Incidences declined sharply after 2003; this is likely due to acquired immunity through exposure to the virus.
Birds are not tested for West Nile Virus in Kansas and KDHE will not be collecting information about dead birds. If you find a dead bird, KDHE recommends that you wear gloves, place the bird in a plastic bag, and dispose of it in the garbage.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides this web page with additional information about West Nile Virus and preventing mosquito bites: http://www.cdc.gov/features/StopMosquitoes/.