West Nile Virus Hits Metro Area

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Bob Hallinan

Executive Producer

Office: (913) 588-7284

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             The Kansas Department of Health and Environment recently reported two Johnson County residents have a potentially fatal form of West Nile Virus, and warns that most of the state is under a high-risk warning for mosquito-borne illnesses.

            West Nile virus can be spread to people through mosquito bites, but it is not spread from person to person. About one in five people who are infected develop a fever and other symptoms. Roughly one out of 150 infected people develop the more severe version of the disease, neuroinvasive disease, which includes swelling of the brain or brain tissue and, in some cases, death. That’s the type the two Johnson County residents have. There are no vaccines or medications to treat West Nile virus, and people who have had it before are considered immune.

            In the video, Dr. Dana Hawkinson, an infectious disease physician at The University of Kansas Health System, talks about West Nile virus, how people get it, the symptoms and why most of the time it will pass harmlessly, but in some cases, like the ones in Johnson County, it can be much more serious. Dr. Hawkinson also explains what to do if you think you have the disease and the best ways to protect yourself from West Nile Virus.