BARTON COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – Kansas health officials are warning the public that West Nile virus could be a problem earlier than in past years. Barton County saw its first human case last week, and while officials said the person is doing better, there are severe symptoms from the infection.
“Some severe cases, death can be a part of it,” said Barton County health director Shelly Schneider. “It does affect the neurological system and so we have to really protect that.”
Schneider added that death is rare, but that shouldn’t stop people from protecting themselves.
One way to do that is by getting rid of mosquito breeding sites — bird baths, flower pots, wading pools and pet dishes. When they’re not being used, toss the water out. Schneider said a bottle cap filled with water is enough water to cause mosquitoes to reproduce.
Health officials also said to fix holes in screen windows or doors.
“If you have a hole in those, mosquitoes can come in the evening, and then you’re not really protecting yourself,” Schneider said.
According to Schneider, mosquitoes are more active during the dawn and dusk hours. She recommended using insect repellent with DEET, and wearing long-sleeve shirts and pants.
Health officials said the Culex mosquito is known to transmit West Nile virus, but it is not known to transmit the Zika virus.
The county continues to watch to see how prevalent the Culex mosquito is in the area.
Lastly, officials stressed that West Nile is only spread through bites from an infected mosquito. It cannot spread from person to person.