MANHATTAN — The state of Kansas was recently put in a moderate risk of West Nile Virus due to rising waters throughout the state.
Riley County has been seeing these rising waters due to heavy rainfall last month that affected both Wildcat Creek and Tuttle Creek Lake. All the extra water in the county has the potential to bring in more mosquitoes since they breed in the water.
Riley County Health Department Public Health Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Andrew Adams says the virus is a disease spread primarily by mosquitoes who live and breed in stagnant water. The main species seen in Kansas that carries the disease is the Culex, or house mosquito.
The risk levels are determined by surveys done throughout the state collecting the mosquitoes. They then base the level on how many were collected, the recent weather patterns, and historical disease data up to that point.
From 2012 to 2016, the health department had three investigations of the virus and only one since 2017.
Prevention of the disease is like prevention of other mosquito born diseases. The department uses three main pillars of protection; remove standing water, use bug spray, and wear protective clothing. If the disease is contracted, go to the doctor.
Adams says the symptoms of West Nile are very generic and can sometimes not show up. The common symptoms are fever, body aches, headache, and nausea. He says if you don’t feel good after spending time outside, go to the doctor.
When the potential of flooding began last month, the department immediately started thinking of the long term affects including mosquitoes. In response, they created a special page on their website with information on West Nile and general mosquito prevention. The website is rileycountyks.gov/1829/mosquito.
The recent flooding has also brought the potential of tetanus as well. As the waters recede, they disperse a lot of dirt where tetanus can be found. Clinic Supervisor Leslie Campbell is urging people to get a TDAP vaccination shot during this time.
The department recommends getting a TDAP shot every 10 years since that is how long the vaccine is good for. Campbell says this is meant to be a preventative measure since there is no treatment and will lead to death.
Recently, the health department held a vaccination clinic for those in the Northview area during the evacuation advisory
Along with the TDAP shot, the department is also recommending the measles or MMR vaccine shot as well. The US has recently been experiencing a measles outbreak. Some say it’s been caused by a growing segment of the population choosing not to vaccinate their children. Luckily, there have not been any reported cases in Kansas. Campbell says they do have the vaccine ready if there ever is one.
One of the ways an outbreak can occur in Kansas is from kids and adults who are not vaccinated. The people who will be mostly affected are those who cannot receive the vaccine due to age or medical conditions. There was a major measles outbreak in Kansas back in the early 1990s that resulted in the death of two teenagers
The department recommends the MMR vaccine for all babies at 12 months, children at five-years-old, and adults who have not gotten their second dose.
Campbell says measles is a very serious disease that can result in death.
“All of the disease that are vaccine preventable have changed over years being stronger and can be more severe than back when it was a common childhood disease,” says Campbell.
The department is educating the public about the importance of vaccinations through the information on their website and through the school nurses. They also recommend using reputable websites such as the Center for Disease Control when looking up information on vaccines and diseases.
The best way of protection against measles is prevention.