West Nile virus cases expected to exceed previous record in Oklahoma

On Thursday, the state Health Department reported 101 confirmed cases of West Nile virus and five deaths related to the illness.
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Published: August 31, 2012

Oklahoma is only six cases away from its record for the most reported West Nile virus cases the state has ever seen.

On Thursday, the state Health Department reported 101 confirmed cases of West Nile virus and five deaths related to the illness.

“We are approaching the 2007 record for the most cases in one year,” said State Health Commissioner Terry Cline.

“It appears we will shatter that record since West Nile virus will be with us until the first freeze. We all need to remember to guard against mosquito bites by using insect repellents while outdoors this weekend,” Cline said.

Four-year cycle

West Nile is a cyclical virus, peaking about every four years. In 2007, Oklahoma had 107 reported cases of the mosquito-borne virus, its highest number of reported cases since the virus entered the U.S. in 1999.

Five residents older than 65 have died in Oklahoma as a result of the virus. West Nile is primarily spread through the bite of a mosquito.

Oklahoma City officials have been in contact with the Oklahoma City-County Health Department and discussed developments as recently as Wednesday, city spokeswoman Kristy Yager said.

Health department authorities have told the city they will continue to monitor the virus closely, she said. There were no more meetings scheduled between city and health department officials as of Thursday morning.

Yager said it would be the city's decision whether to spray for mosquitoes, but so far there are no plans for it. Health department officials have not recommended it as a way to counter the West Nile threat, she added.

Miami, a city of 14,000 in northeast Oklahoma, plans to spray for mosquitoes for two days next week. Officials in Dallas County, Texas, reported Wednesday that after they sprayed, they saw a 93 percent decrease of the mosquitoes that carry West Nile in the east and southern portion of the county.

Nationwide, about 1,590 cases have been reported this year. It was the highest number of West Nile virus cases reported to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through the last week in August since West Nile virus was first detected in the United States in 1999.

More than 70 percent of the cases have been in six states: Texas, South Dakota, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Michigan. More than 45 percent of all cases have been reported from Texas, according to the CDC.

Kits back-ordered

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by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, medicine and fitness, among other things. She graduated from Oklahoma State University with a news-editorial and broadcast production degree. Outside of work, she enjoys riding her bike, taking pictures of...
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We're hearing reports of some people calling 911 because they got a mosquito bite. That's certainly not an appropriate action. We want everybody to take their precautions to prevent mosquito bites, but if you do get a bite, don't panic.”

Kristy Bradley

State epidemiologist at the state Health Department

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