TOPEKAThe Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) today learned that there are five confirmed cases of West Nile Virus (WNV) in the state. Health officials here say an additional 14 cases reported are probable. Of the 19 total cases reported in Kansas, one patient has died due to West Nile Virus.

Sadly, someone in Kansas has died due to West Nile virus disease. In many places around the country, including Kansas, cases are on the rise. We want to bring this to everyones attention as we expect an increase in this disease before winter is here, and we strongly encourage the use of methods that prevent mosquito bites, said Robert Moser, M.D., KDHE Secretary and State Health Officer.

As of noon today, Aug. 24, the case count by county in Kansas is: Sedgwick-12, Douglas-1, Harvey-1, Pottowatomie-1, Reno-1, Stafford-1, Sumner-1 and Trego-1. No other details about the patients or the one death will be provided at this time.

West Nile Virus can be spread to people through bites from infected mosquitoes, but it is not contagious from person to person. 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.

KDHE recommends the following precautions to protect against West Nile Virus:

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.

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 aren't being used.

Cases are most common in the late summer and early fall months. In 2011, one confirmed case of West Nile virus was reported in Kansas. The three-year median for WNV for 2008-2010 was five cases. Incidences declined sharply after 2003; this is likely due to acquired immunity through exposure to the virus.

Birds are not tested for West Nile Virus in Kansas and KDHE will not be collecting information about dead birds. If you find a dead bird, KDHE recommends that you wear gloves, place the bird in a plastic bag, and dispose of it in the garbage.