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Archive for Wednesday, July 14, 2004

West Nile virus found in four Kansas counties

July 14, 2004

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Five birds in four Kansas counties have tested positive for West Nile virus this year, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment said today.

As of July 13, Sedgwick County had two positive cases. Wilson, Shawnee and Barton counties each had one bird test positive for the virus.

West Nile virus is carried by birds and transmitted by mosquitoes that bite infected birds and then transmit the virus by biting horses and humans.

"It is no surprise that West Nile virus is in the state," said Ludek Zurek, entomologist with Kansas State University Research and Extension. "It has been in the state the last two years, and it was just a matter of time before it showed up this season."

The KDHE is asking Kansans to report dead birds by calling the West Nile virus hotline at (877) 228-2287.

Birds being tested include crows, bluejays, magpies and birds of prey (hawks, owls, and eagles). The birds must be intact and dead no longer than 24 hours. They should be placed in a double plastic bag and kept in the freezer until submitted.

No human cases of West Nile virus have been reported this year.

"The chances of humans' actually getting ill from West Nile virus are low, but that is no reason to not take precautions," Zurek said.

In Kansas last year, 90 human West Nile virus cases with neurological illness were confirmed by the KDHE Division of Health and Environment Laboratories. Those cases led to seven deaths. Three additional deaths were attributed to West Nile, but not confirmed through lab work. In total, there were 731 human cases.

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