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First human West Nile virus case reported

Residents urged to take precautions

Public health officials report that a Kansas City man has been diagnosed with West Nile virus and has been receiving treatment for the illness. This is the first human case of the virus in Kansas City, Mo., this year.

The screens that cover the windows and doors of the house the man was living in are torn or missing. Residents are advised to make sure screens fit tightly over doors and windows, and are not torn or gaping.

The City of Kansas City, Mo., Health Department reminds everyone that West Nile virus is something we will most likely deal with every year. West Nile virus is primarily a bird disease that can sometimes infect people. The disease infects birds and is spread through mosquitoes. An infected mosquito then passes it on a human when it bites, or feeds off a human host.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2005 approximately 1,300 people in the United States infected with West Nile virus came down with the neuroinvasive form of the disease and 119 people died. The neuroinvasive form has symptoms which include paralysis, meningitis and encephalitis. Thousands more had West Nile fever, the less serious form of the disease.

Most human infections are mild. Symptoms usually appear three to 15 days after infection and include fever, headache, body aches, occasional skin rash and swollen lymph glands. More severe infection may be marked by headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, paralysis, and, rarely, death.

"What makes these illnesses and deaths doubly distressing is that there is a lot that can be done to prevent West Nile virus infection," said Dr. Rex Archer, director of the Health Department. "Everyone should take precautions to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes because you don't want to run the risk that you will be debilitated or die from it."

The Health Department is urging the following actions be taken to reduce exposure to West Nile virus:

    Get rid of all standing water. This includes removing tires, buckets and other objects that hold water. Change water and clean birdbaths and animal troughs at least every week. Empty child wading pools and clean garden ponds. Cover rain barrels.

    Prevent water from accumulating in pool covers. Unclog gutters and down spouts and repair leaky faucets.

    Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Consider using an insect repellent. The CDC recommends repellents containing the chemical N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide (DEET), which is known to be very effective for use with children and adults. It is important to read the label and follow the instructions on the label carefully. Long-lasting and effective alternatives to products containing DEET are available. Insect repellents containing Picardin may be a good choice for some individuals.

    Make sure screens fit tightly over doors and windows, and they are in a good state of repair.

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