September 19, 2018

DHSS releases latest West Nile virus report, includes county level data

The Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) has updated their website to include data on cases of West Nile virus through September 15. Since the last report two new cases were reported, including the first case in Boone County in 2018.  In addition, the most recent report correctly identifies a West Nile virus fatality as a resident of Jackson County. 

"In this instance, DHSS staff correctly identified the fatality by county in the current online report, but had misinterpreted a fatality report leading to inaccurate information being shared both internally and to the public. We have implemented measures to prevent this in the future, including changes in how data elements are communicated internally," said Kerri Tesreau, Director of the Division of Community and Public Health.

DHSS has also updated the current report to include county level data. In an effort to be consistent in reporting of mosquito borne diseases, DHSS had recently stopped reporting West Nile virus information by county.  With mosquito borne diseases, there is a distinction between domestically acquired and travel/internationally acquired, as travel can be used as an identifier.  In an effort to be consistent, the data for domestically acquired diseases, such as West Nile virus, was inadvertently grouped with other travel/internationally acquired diseases.

Concerns regarding county level data were brought to our attention through inquiries.  As a result, we reviewed our processes and have changed them to include county level data for West Nile virus in most circumstances.  DHSS is committed to both protecting privacy and informing the public. As is consistent with other states, there will be times when data is reported by county, region or by the entire state.  This change in presentation was shared with the media previously. We always appreciate feedback, and hope this updated information helps Missourians better protect their health.

Mosquito bite prevention is the best method for preventing infection. More information from the CDC can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/chikungunya/pdfs/fs_mosquito_bite_prevention_us.pdf.

About the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services: The department seeks to be the leader in protecting health and keeping people safe. More information about DHSS can be found at health.mo.gov or find us on Facebook and Twitter @HealthyLivingMo.

###