West Nile Hits Kansas
Health officials reported the first believed case of West Nile virus of the year after a 51-year-old Kansas man appears to have the symptoms.
Though lab tests are not yet confirmed, the doctor who treated the man last month says the symptoms are consistent with the mosquito-transmitted virus that killed 98 people in the United States last year.
“This season’s first human case of West Nile virus reminds us of the importance of taking precautions to avoid becoming ill,” said Dr. Lyle Petersen, director of the CDC’s Division of Vector-borne Infectious Diseases.
“It’s impossible to predict what this year’s season will hold. So everyone who spends time outdoors should take steps to protect themselves from mosquito bites and West Nile virus.”
The Kansas man is the first human case reported this year, but the disease has been reported in birds and horses in the 14 states already.
Introduced to the US in 1999, West Nile virus has killed hundreds of people. It seems to have peaked in 2003 with 264 related deaths among the 9862 people infected. Last year saw only 2535 infected humans. Every state but Alaska and Hawaii have had confirmed cases.
For most healthy people, a West Nile infection is minor as only about 20% people exhibit the symptoms such as fever, aches, nausea, and vomiting. The highest risk is among those over 50-years-old and organ transplant patients whose immune systems are all but shut down from the procedure. The most extreme cases cause brain inflammation that can quickly lead to death.
The Centers for Disease Control has put forth guidelines to help prevent contracting the disease. All recommendations involve protection against mosquito bites. Mosquitoes are most active between dusk and dawn. If it is necessary that a person be outside at that time, the CDC suggests long sleeve pants and trousers in addition to insect repellent with DEET.
“In addition to DEET and permethrin, repellents containing picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus have recently been found to provide reliable and long-lasting protection from mosquito bites,” the CDC said in a statement.