Residents of northeast Kansas are under high risk of West Nile Virus, despite low numbers of reported cases in Douglas County.
A weekly risk report from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment identified counties in northeast Kansas as having high risk zones for the virus.
“The risk of West Nile Virus always reaches its peak from July to mid-September, but this season has a slightly higher risk factor to it,” said George Diepenbrock, communications officer for the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department. “With the amount of rain and flooding that we’ve had, the amount of sitting water in the area makes it easier for carrier mosquitoes to reproduce.”
Symptoms of the virus include fever, upset stomach and generally feeling unwell, and people who feel they have the virus should immediately seek medical attention, said ecology and evolutionary biology professor Andrew Townsend Peterson.
There have been no patients with the virus admitted to Watkins Health Services or the rest of northeast Kansas in the last month, but the risk is still high, Watkins interim chief of staff Pavika Saripalli and Diepenbrock said.
There are few options outside of seeking treatment after contracting the virus, but there are simple ways to avoid contact with mosquitoes. Townsend Peterson recommends the "Four D’s" for avoiding contact with mosquitoes: Dress, Daytime, DEET and Drain.
Dress in long sleeve shirts and pants to guard skin from contact with mosquitoes.
Stay inside as much as possible during the daytime as this is the time when mosquitoes are most active.
Use bug spray with DEET in it.
Drain any sitting water near your home to avoid giving mosquitoes a place to reproduce.
“After an individual is exposed to West Nile Virus there is little that can be done,” Townsend Peterson said. “Prevention is one of the only options.”