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Archive for Thursday, August 15, 2002

Deadly virus reaches Douglas County

August 15, 2002

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The West Nile virus has reached Douglas County.

Officials learned Thursday morning that the mosquito-borne virus had infected a blue jay found in the county, said Kim Ens, communicable diseases coordinator for the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department.

For the latest updates, tune in at 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. to Sunflower Broadband Channel 6 and pick up a copy of Friday's Journal-World.

The discovery means that at least 13 birds and four horses from Kansas have have tested positive for the virus. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment said that infected birds had been found in eight counties, including Douglas, Johnson, Wyandotte and Shawnee. Infected horses have been found in four counties.

Ens said that county residents should continue to take reasonable precautions to cut the chances of being exposed to the virus. And that means avoiding mosquito bites by:

  • Wearing long sleeves and long pants when outdoors, particularly at sunrisa and at dusk.
  • Using insect repellant that contains DEET.
  • Getting rid of stagnant, standing water at home, such as in baby pools or bird baths. Such pools can be breeding grounds for mosquitos.

Birds carry the West Nile disease as they migrate. Mosquitos transmit the disease from birds to humans and other animals.

Most people who get infected with West Nile virus don't know it. Some get flu-like symptoms: fever, headache, body aches and swollen lymph glands. More severe infections can lead to encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain, marked by headache, high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma and seizures.

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