KDHE asks physicians to report human cases of West Nile Virus fever

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN
With the presence of West Nile Virus now confirmed in nine Kansas counties, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment has asked all physicians in the state to report human cases of WNV fever to the state health department.

This request follows a recent recommendation by the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists that all states collect this information.

Once Kansas doctors submit the information to KDHE, it will be submitted to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention along with the more severe West Nile Virus cases-WNV meningitis, encephalitis and acute flaccid paralysis.

WNV has been confirmed in the following counties: Pratt, Reno, Wallace, Barton, Harvey, Johnson, Sedgwick, Shawnee and Wilson.

In the previous two years that WNV has been found in Kansas, only these more severe forms of the disease were reported to CDC, as was recommended then.

To date, KDHE has no reports of human cases from physicians or private labs. The state laboratory performs confirmatory testing on all cases with neurological illness (meningitis or encephalitis or acute paralysis), and private labs submit reports on cases tested to KDHE.

“To reduce the number of human cases of West Nile Virus we see in Kansas this summer, each of us can and should take steps to reduce our contact with mosquitoes and to reduce mosquito breeding grounds,” said Gail Hansen, acting state pidemiologist.

Reduce risks

KDHE recommends the following to reduce the risk of WNV:–

— Use insect repellent with DEET and wear protective clothing when practical

— Remove standing water (where mosquitoes breed).

— Use larvicide in water that cannot be drained or removed.

— Change water frequently in bird baths, pet bowls and wading pools.

— Limit outdoor activities at dawn and dusk when mosquitos are most active.

In many instances, WNV cases are not reported to KDHE because the WNV sufferer does not contact a physician because of very minor or non-existent symptoms.

Actual cases exceed count

Only one in 150 WNV cases, result in symptoms with neurological illness. Therefore KDHE recognizes the case counts reported are only a portion of those that exist in Kansas.

“The particular location of West Nile Virus activity or the number of cases found should not be a factor for individuals to determine when to take precautions against mosquitoes,” said Hansen.

“The virus has shown up again this year throughout the state. We simply can’t wait until someone we know gets the disease before we take these precautions. We must act responsibly and protect ourselves and our families every day through simple actions that reduce our likelihood of getting bitten by a mosquito and reduce mosquito breeding grounds.”

Testing dead birds

Since KDHE has confirmed two positive WNV birds in nine counties, no further testing will be conducted on birds in those counties.

Dispose of any dead birds in the garbage.

KDHE is asking Kansans who find dead birds in all other counties, to call the West Nile Virus information line at 1-877-228-2287 and learn how to submit a bird to Kansas State University for testing.

Birds being tested include: crows, bluejays, magpies, or birds of prey (hawks, owls, eagles), and must meet the following criteria for testing:

— Bird should not have been dead longer than 24 hours;

— Bird should be intact and should be placed in double plastic bags in freezer until submitted.

Callers must leave their name and number and will receive a call back on where to drop-off the dead bird.

K-State Extension agents will then ship the specimens to a designated testing lab. Test results will not be released to individuals submitting birds, but birds testing positive will be reported on the WNV Web site. For more information, go to www.westnileks.com.

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