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Community Health News

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Recreational Water Illnesses (RWIs)

In the past two decades, there has been a substantial increase in the number of recreational water illnesses (RWIs) outbreaks associated with swimming. In 2014, the Sedgwick County Health Department reported 24 cases of reportable diseases that can be waterborne; however, none of these cases were linked to outbreaks at local venues.

Recreational water illnesses (RWIs) are caused by germs spread by swallowing, breathing in mists or aerosols of, or by having contact with contaminated water in swimming pools, hot tubs, water parks, water play areas, interactive fountains, lakes, rivers or oceans. RWIs can also be caused by chemicals in the water, or chemicals that evaporate from the water and cause indoor air quality problems.

Common RWIs include symptoms of stomach upset/diarrhea, and skin, ear, respiratory, eye, neurologic (brain, nervous system) and wound infections. Children, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems are most at risk for RWIs.

Everyone should take precautions to prevent illness. Here are a few steps to consider for healthy swimming this summer:

Keep the pee, poop, sweat and dirt out of the water

  • Don't swim when you have diarrhea.
  • Don't swallow the water you swim in.
  • Shower with soap before swimming
  • Wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers.
Every hour – everyone out!
  • Take bathroom breaks every 60 minutes.
  • Check diapers and change them in a bathroom, not poolside.
  • Reapply sunscreen.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.

Check the free chlorine level and pH before getting into the water.

Recreational Water Illnesses Fact Sheet

More information about RWIs can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website,

Listeria (Listeriosis)

Five cases of listeriosis in Kansas are linked to ice cream given to patients at a Kansas hospital. Listeriosis is a serious infection caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. Ice cream products linked to the outbreak have been recalled by Blue Bell Creameries. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), the Kansas Department of Agriculture, state officials in Texas and Oklahoma, and federal partners are working together to investigate the contamination and prevent more cases. Consumers should discard any recalled product in home freezers. See the Blue Bell Creameries website for up to date information about recalled products.

Additional listeria information:

Pertussis (Whooping Cough)

In 2015, Sedgwick County reports 39 pertussis cases in which the disease investigation is complete.  Cases are reported according to the year and month in which the person became ill. Most pertussis reports the Sedgwick County Health Department investigates are not linked to other cases outside a household.

The Health Department works with medical providers and Sedgwick County school nurses to investigate and stop the spread of disease.

Statewide data for reportable diseases

Sedgwick County Pertussis Cases


Am I At Risk?
Ebola is a rare disease and is only transmitted by direct contact with an infected person’s blood or bodily fluids. Symptoms of Ebola include: fever, headache, muscle pain, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain and unexplained bleeding or bruising. Only people who are exhibiting these symptoms AND meet one of the following criteria are at risk for having Ebola:

    1. Have recently traveled to an affected area in Africa
    2. Have had directed contact with a person who exhibiting Ebola symptoms and has recently traveled to Africa.

Ebola Fact Sheet

For statewide information and guidance on Ebola, visit the Kansas Department of Health and Environment website.

For national information and guidance on Ebola, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

Mosquito Surveillance in Sedgwick County

With recent heavy rains and as we move into warmer months, mosquito totals are high, as expected. Sedgwick County and the City of Wichita track mosquito numbers and implement control measures in the area in order to protect the public from diseases such as West Nile virus, which are spread by bite of an infected mosquito. Residents are encouraged to eliminate or treat mosquito breeding areas of standing water in their neighborhood.

Mosquito Surveillance in Sedgwick County

The graph shows the number of mosquitoes identified in traps set in Sedgwick County (in and around the Wichita metropolitan area). Mosquito trapping is performed by the Kansas Biological Survey and coordinated by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

The Culex species of mosquitoes are the primary vector for West Nile virus in the United States and Kansas. An increase in mosquitoes, especially Culex species, may indicate an increased risk of West Nile virus (WNV) infection in humans. WNV is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds.

Fight the Bite! Avoid mosquito bites by following the three Ds:

  • DRAIN: Eliminate standing water where mosquitoes live and breed.
  • DRESS: Cover your skin with clothing when outdoors.
  • DEET: Use insect repellents that contain DEET.

Notifiable Disease Investigations

Week ending June 20, 2015 through week ending July 25, 2015

Notifiable Diseases Graph by Category

Read about the epidemiology (disease investigation) program at the Sedgwick County Health Department

Sedgwick County...working for you

Mission: To assure quality public services that provide for the present and future well-being of the citizens of Sedgwick County.