In 2007 the Greensburg tornado revealed the need to formally address animal response in Kansas and later that year the Kansas State Animal Response Team was established. It is the federal Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act (PETS) passed in 2006, that requires emergency management to address the needs of people with pets and service animals during a major disaster or emergency and the Kansas State Animal Response Team is here to help make that happen.
The Kansas State Animal Response Team, a volunteer non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, teaches pet owners how to prepare for their pets, assists emergency management in pet disaster planning, trains volunteers for response and responds when the team is requested through the disaster response process.
This team accomplishes its’ work through dedicated volunteers, support from others in disaster management and response, grants, corporate sponsorships and private donations.
West Nile Virus Update
There has been an increase in reported incidents of West Nile Virus in Kansas. State Public Health Veterinarian Dr. Erin Petro has provided the following information to help keep you and your pets safe>
- Humans: There is no vaccine to prevent West Nile Virus (WNV), and no specific medication to treat symptoms. The good news is that only about 20% of people infected with WNV will develop symptoms – these are typically flu-like illness (headache, malaise, fever, muscle pain, body aches). Even fewer people, about 1 in 150, will develop WNV neuroinvasive disease, in which the virus causes swelling of the brain and/or the tissue lining the brain. These people will have much more severe symptoms and require hospitalization. Symptoms include high fever, severe headache, neck stiffness, confusion/disorientation, muscle weakness or numbness, and paralysis. Some of these symptoms may be permanent, and about 10% of these cases are fatal. So while we don’t see severe disease and death commonly with WNV, when it does happen, we have only supportive care for treatment. Because of this, prevention is key. Each week during WNV season, KDHE calculates WNV risk levels for each region of the state. These risk levels are based on presence and abundance of Culex spp mosquitoes (the vectors of WNV), average temperature for the previous two weeks, and historical data indicators for human WNV cases. You can find risk levels here: https://www.kdhe.ks.gov/1519/West-Nile-Virus. They are updated each Friday.
i. Mosquito bite prevention:
- Wear an EPA-approved insect repellent such as DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone. Do not use products containing OLE or PMD on children less than 3 years old. All other products are safe for children, adults, elderly, pregnant, etc., however always follow label directions for application
- Wear long pants and long-sleeve shirts when enjoying the outdoors, especially when mosquitoes are most active. You can treat clothing with permethrin if going in an especially mosquito-dense habitat.
ii. Reduce mosquito breeding habitats:
- Drain or dump sources of standing water. Mosquitoes only need a few tablespoons of water to breed, so look for all sources, including flower pots, tarps, toys, tires, etc.
- Empty water in wading pools and refresh water in bird baths at least every three days to interrupt the mosquito life cycle.
- Change water in pet bowls daily
- Animals: There are many animals that can be infected with WNV, however we most typically worry about horses. The good news is that there is a safe and effective vaccine for horses. Every horse at risk for WNV should be vaccinated annually. Contact your veterinarian about a vaccination program that is right for you. Signs in horses include decreased appetite, fever, weakness or paralysis of the hind legs, muscle twitching, incoordination/stumbling, and seizures. Like humans, symptoms in horses can range from asymptomatic, to mild, or severe disease. Horses can also have long-term effects. Other than vaccination, you also want to reduce mosquito breeding habitats around horse housing areas, refresh water every 3 days, etc. There are repellents that can be applied to horses as well – discuss with your veterinarian.
- WNV cases are cyclical. The ecology of WNV is complex, and changes in temperature, humidity, rainfall, and susceptible bird population all affect the burden of WNV in a particular area. In Kansas, we have seen more virus activity in humans (based on number of reported cases, deaths, and positive viremic blood donors) this year than in the previous five years. For current WNV data, visit KDHE’s WNV data dashboard: https://www.kdhe.ks.gov/1937/West-Nile-Virus-Data