The likelihood of mosquitoes arriving in southwest Kansas increased dramatically along with the possibility of West Nile Virus with the recent rainfall.

According to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, southwest Kansas was listed as a high risk due to an increase in historical human cases and Culex species mosquito abundance remains higher than the same week in 2017.

With the exception of northeast Kansas, the remaining areas of the state were listed as high risk from the West Nile Risk Report conducted by KDHE.

According to the West Nile Virus Risk Report, three factors were used in the assessment which were temperature, mosquito surveillance data and human cases of West Nile Virus.

Other factors that were used from the three factors were: High-risk environmental conditions including above-normal temperatures with or without above-normal rainfall using the average daily temperature during the prior two weeks as the benchmark; Relative abundance of Culex species mosquitoes compared to the same week in the previous year and the number of human cases of West Nile Virus each week based on the average number of cases in the previous five years.

The report also states that the risk of West Nile Virus transmission is lower in the spring but rises through the early and midsummer months and usually reaches peak transmission during July, August, and September.

Symptoms range from a slight headache and low-grade fever to swelling of the brain or brain tissue and in rare cases, death.

People who have had West Nile Virus before are considered immune.

To protect from possible West Nile Virus, the KDHE recommends the following precautions: when you are outdoors, use insect repellent containing an EPA-registered active ingredient on skin and clothing, including DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535.

Follow the directions on the package; many mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn. Be sure to use insect repellent and wear long sleeves and pants at these times or consider staying indoors during these hours; the elderly or immunocompromised should consider limiting their exposure outside during dusk and dawn when the Culex species mosquitos are most active; make sure you have good screens on your windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out; get rid of mosquito breeding sites by emptying standing water from flower pots, buckets and barrels.

Change the water in pet dishes and replace the water in bird baths weekly.

Drill holes in tire swings so water drains out. Keep children's wading pools empty and on their sides when they are not being used.

KDHE assesses the potential for West Nile virus by conducting mosquito surveillance, including laboratory testing in addition to tracking cases of human illnesses caused by West Nile Virus.

The KDHE also said that mosquito surveillance will continue through mid-October.

For questions about West Nile virus or other Arboviral diseases, please contact the KDHE Epidemiology hotline at 877-427-7317 or visit  www.kdheks.gov/epi/arboviral_disease.htm.

To contact the writer email vmarshall@dodgeglobe.com