disease

Doctors don't know what caused a severe neurologic condition to manifest itself a few months ago in three patients, including a 13-year-old from Joplin, Mo. On this edition of Up To Date, we try to understand this mysterious condition, and learn how doctors investigate unknown diseases.

Guests:

  • Dr. Mary Anne Jackson is the Division Chief of Infectious Disease at Children’s Mercy Hospital.
  • Dan Margolies is the health editor at KCUR.

State health officials say an adult from Republic County, in northcentral Kansas, has the first confirmed case of West Nile virus in Kansas this year.

No information has been released as to the patient’s condition, or whether he or she has been hospitalized.

The disease is spread by infected mosquitoes, and is not contagious from person to person. KDHE spokeswoman Aimee Rosenow says this is the time of year when the species of mosquito that carries West Nile is most active.

State and local health officials are trying to contain a measles outbreak that started in May in the Kansas City area, and has since spread to Wichita.

Six of those are in the Wichita area. The four newest cases are all linked to Sal's Japanese Steakhouse, in Wichita. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment says an employee of the restaurant was connected to the outbreak in Kansas City. Two other employees also became infected later.

Kansas state health officials confirmed two cases of measles in Johnson County Friday. The cases may be linked to four others on the Missouri side of Kansas City.

Kansas Department of Health and Environment spokeswoman Aimee Rosenow says everyone at risk of exposure is being contacted, and the investigation into the two Johnson County cases is ongoing.

One of the patients is an unvaccinated child, the other is an adult. 

"We're not certain of the vaccination status of the adult, but they are connected," she says.

Carol E. Davis, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers / Flickr-CC

A small outbreak of measles stemming from a Clay County family has some area doctors worried that more may catch the illness. After traveling abroad to the Pacific Rim, an infant who wasn't immunized to the disease was diagnosed and spread it to two family members last week.

In the first segment of Tuesday's Up to Date, Steve Kraske sits down with a panel of experts to discuss the recent measles cases and the cultural struggles surrounding immunization in the United States.

Guests:

Kansas lags behind Missouri in being prepared for infectious diseases. That’s according to a new report from the Trust for America’s Health. 

Both states lose points for low vaccination rates and for cutting funding for public health. Kansas also ranked low because it doesn’t require health facilities to report infections.

But Dr. Jeffrey Levi says our region isn’t the only place falling behind on those prevention measures.

The first-ever statewide report on infections in Kansas hospitals shows progress against two specific types of infections.

According to the CDC, Americans contract 1.7 million infections every year while being treated in hospitals and 99,000 people die from these infections, adding $30 billion to the nation’s healthcare costs. 

Joey Scaletta directs the Kansas healthcare-associated infections program. He says approximately five of every 100 patients admitted to a hospital contract an infection while there.

New insights about the development of ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease, can help explain what causes nerve- and muscle-cell failure in sufferers, and researchers hope the new knowledge will help design drugs to combat the disease.