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West Nile reported in Pottawatomie County

By Corene Brisendine

A case of West Nile virus was reported this week in Pottawatomie County. In Kansas, 19 cases — one of which resulted in death — have been reported this year.

Of those, 15 were confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control, according to the state Department of Health and Environment. Ten cases were centered in Sedgwick County, and the remaining five were scattered across the state.

The state health department did not provide details of the fatal case, but the Wichita Eagle reported that it was an 85-year-old man from Mulvane.

Though most cases of West Nile are reported in August and September, the number has spiked this year in Kansas and nationwide.

Ludek Zurek, professor of entomology at Kansas State University, said while mosquito season runs from the end of April until mid-October, or when the first freeze hits, typically Kansas does not see cases of the virus until late summer.

“Chances still exist,” Zurek said. “With all the rain, the larvae develop in standing water.”

He offered some precautions to decrease the chance of contracting the virus.

First, clean out any blockages in rain gutters to allow standing water to drain. Second, if any yard items contain water as a result of the rain, those containers should be dumped.

And finally, while repellant isn’t necessary all the time, if people see mosquitoes swarming, they should apply it.

“It is a good idea to use repellants if you go outside and see mosquitoes flying around or landing on you,” Zurek said.

He also said horses are also prone to catch West Nile, but horse owners should have vaccinated their animals in the spring.

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