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Unedited transcript of West Nile virus chat, Sept. 12, 2012

Phil Maytubby, chief of public health protection at the Oklahoma City-County Health Department, chatted with readers Wednesday about West Nile virus, safety precautions and cases in Oklahoma.

by Jaclyn Cosgrove Modified: September 12, 2012 at 2:58 pm •  Published: September 12, 2012

Phil Maytubby, chief of public health protection at the Oklahoma City-County Health Department, chatted with readers Wednesday about West Nile virus, safety precautions and cases in Oklahoma. Below is an unedited transcript of the chat.

Jaclyn Cosgrove, NewsOK 1:34 p.m. Hi everyone. We'll start the chat with Phil Maytubby from the Oklahoma City-County Health Department at 2 p.m. Please feel free to submit your questions about West Nile virus, and we'll do our best to get them answered when the chat starts.
Jaclyn Cosgrove, NewsOK 1:35 p.m. You can read our latest West Nile virus story here:
Jaclyn Cosgrove, NewsOK 1:53 p.m. We have a few more minutes before the chat begins. Feel free to submit your questions now. Thanks for your input!
Jaclyn Cosgrove, NewsOK 2:01 p.m. By my cell phone calculations, it is 2 p.m. and time to start the chat. We have Phil Maytubby with the Oklahoma City-County Health Department with us today to chat about West Nile virus.
Jaclyn Cosgrove, NewsOK 2:01 p.m. Phil, could you introduce yourself, and explain what you do at the health department?
Phil Maytubby 2:01 p.m. Hello everyone - I am the Chief of Public Health Protection at the Oklahoma City-County Health Department
Jaclyn Cosgrove, NewsOK 2:02 p.m. Great. Thanks for joining us, Phil. And thanks to everyone who's viewing the chat today.
Jaclyn Cosgrove, NewsOK 2:02 p.m. Many people have heard about West Nile virus in the news. I was curious about what the Oklahoma City-County Health Department is doing to combat mosquitoes.
Phil Maytubby 2:04 p.m. We use an integrated pest management approach. That includes mosquito habitat reduction and removal, mosquito larvicide application and foremost, educating the public about how to protect themselves from mosquitoes.
Jaclyn Cosgrove, NewsOK 2:04 p.m. And I'm sure we have folks from multiple counties viewing this chat. Generally, what can someone do if they have stagnant water in their community?
Jaclyn Cosgrove, NewsOK 2:05 p.m. In case anyone is curious about the number of cases of West Nile virus in their county, here's a link to a PDF of the latest data:,%20Deaths,%20and%20Pos%20Bld%20Donors.pdf
Phil Maytubby 2:06 p.m. We've taken a proactive approach to identifying areas of stagnant water in Oklahoma County. We've been distributing educational materials to let people know what to look for on their own property - to drain any standing water - to make sure there's no place for mosquitoes to breed.
Jaclyn Cosgrove, NewsOK 2:07 p.m. There's been some talk about aerial spraying. Some parts of Texas have used this approach. Could you discuss the pros and cons of aerial spraying and its effectiveness versus other approaches to prevention?
Phil Maytubby 2:07 p.m. Anyone who sees mosquito habitat on property that belongs to someone else can contact OCCHD to report the problem. The website is - they can also call our consumer protection line at 425-4348
Phil Maytubby 2:08 p.m. People outside of OKC & Oklahoma County may contact the County Health Departments where they live.
Jaclyn Cosgrove, NewsOK 2:10 p.m. As a side note to our readers, two thirds of the West Nile virus cases have been reported from six states -- Texas, Louisiana, South Dakota, Mississippi, Michigan and Oklahoma -- and 40 percent of all cases have been reported from Texas.
Phil Maytubby 2:10 p.m. Aerial spraying is sometimes seen as a last resort when mosquito numbers are very high and other methods are ineffective in reducing mosquito populations - Other methods are that we're currently using are working well
Jaclyn Cosgrove, NewsOK 2:11 p.m. What are some general preventative measures that people can take to lower their chances of being bitten by a mosquito?
Phil Maytubby 2:12 p.m. Habitat reduction - that is draining standing water that can be drained - keeping water circulating - or using larvicide in standing water that can't be drained are very effective in mosquito control - and last longer than spraying. The spray will only kill adult mosquitoes while they are flying. The other methods prevent mosquitos from developing into adults
Jaclyn Cosgrove, NewsOK 2:12 p.m. What tips might you have for pool owners who are concerned about keeping their pools from serving as a problem in regards to mosquitoes?
Phil Maytubby 2:13 p.m. Number one is wearing insect repellant - especially at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active
Phil Maytubby 2:14 p.m. An easy way to remember what to do is to think of the 4 D's - that is Drain any standing water, use mosquito repellant containing DEET, Dress in long sleeves and pants when possible, and take extra precautions at Dawn & Dusk
Phil Maytubby 2:15 p.m. We have the 4 Ds and other tips on our webiste at
Jaclyn Cosgrove, NewsOK 2:15 p.m. I appreciate the cleverness of public health officials.
Jaclyn Cosgrove, NewsOK 2:16 p.m. I think in the midst of your answering, I threw out another question. I apologize for my overly eager questioning -- What tips might you have for pool owners who are concerned about keeping their pools from serving as a problem in regards to mosquitoes?
Phil Maytubby 2:17 p.m. We recommend: Cover, Drain or Maintain - a cover over a pool will prevent mosquitoes breeding in the water, or the water can be drained, or kept circulating. Circulating water won't allow larvae to grow. If none of those things can be done individuals may purchase larvicide from hardware or home improvement stores
Jaclyn Cosgrove, NewsOK 2:18 p.m. Oklahoma has seen a record-breaking year in terms of its reported West Nile virus cases. Are there any theories as to why West Nile virus is worse this year?
Phil Maytubby 2:18 p.m. An actively operating pool is not a concern for West Nile - mosquitoes won't lay their eggs there. For backyard ponds or water features, if fish are present they will eat the larvae. For stagnant pools, draining or treating with larvicide may be the only options.
Phil Maytubby 2:20 p.m. Only theories - much more study and research remains to be done. It's possible that weather patterns may have something to do with increases in cases. There's also some evidence that West Nile emerges on a cyclical pattern. We don't know for sure.
Jaclyn Cosgrove, NewsOK 2:21 p.m. Is there a vaccine or cure for West Nile virus?
Phil Maytubby 2:23 p.m. There is a vaccine for horses - but no vaccine for human use. There is no specific treatment for West Nile - but care in hospitals can help someone make it through the neuroinvasive aspects of the disease.
Charles 2:23 p.m. It is my understanding that mosquitoes get west nile from birds and then passes to humans. What birds carry the disease, and wouldn't there have to be a large contration of birds where the mosquitoes are?
Phil Maytubby 2:25 p.m. Several types of birds may carry the disease. It was orignally reported in crows. One of the theories about the emergence of West Nile during a time of drought is that birds are using water sources that are smaller and more stagnant - and those are areas where mosquitoes are breeding.
Phil Maytubby 2:28 p.m. It's important to use insect repellant on areas of exposed skin. Long sleeves and long pants are a good idea in dusk to dawn times. We recommend DEET, Picaridin and Oil of Eucalyptus repellants - but of course with young children always read the label for instructions
Jaclyn Cosgrove, NewsOK 2:28 p.m. What age group is generally most sensitive to contracting West Nile virus?
Phil Maytubby 2:29 p.m. It may be comforting to know that few young children develop serious cases of West Nile Virus - In OK there are no cases of WNV in children younger than 9 - but they should always be protected from mosquitoes nonetheless.
Armando 2:30 p.m. are there any "home remedies" that can be used to prevent breeding in backyards? e.g.: detergent, moth balls, etc.
Phil Maytubby 2:31 p.m. The primary concern is with people older than 50 years. Most of the cases here are in people between 60 and 90 years old. We have had an increase in cases in the 40 to 49 year age group - so all people in those groups should take extra personal protection precautions
Phil Maytubby 2:33 p.m. We recommend the larvicide - it's a microbiological agent and is toxic only to mosquitoes - it will not harm pets or wildlife. It's non-toxic to humans. Some "home remedies" may not be safe to put in water.
Phil Maytubby 2:33 p.m. Most hardware and home improvement stores carry the larvicide.
Armando 2:34 p.m. Why a vaccine for horses and not humans?
Jaclyn Cosgrove, NewsOK 2:36 p.m. For anyone interested, here's a link to the state Health Department's page about West Nile virus:,_Prevention,_Preparedness/Acute_Disease_Service/Disease_Information/Tickborne_and_Mosquitoborne_Diseases/West_Nile_Virus/
Phil Maytubby 2:36 p.m. That's a complicated question. When the virus first emerged it was very hard on the horse population and there was great demand for a vaccine. Humans have the ability to use repellant or to dress appropriately. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is working with vaccine manufacturers and researchers to determine if it's feasible to produce a WNV vaccine for humans.
Jaclyn Cosgrove, NewsOK 2:37 p.m. How long is West Nile virus season?
Phil Maytubby 2:39 p.m. The season may last as long as mosquitoes are active - especially the hot summer months - as the weather cools mosquito activity level will decline - but they'll be around until we get a good freeze
Jaclyn Cosgrove, NewsOK 2:40 p.m. That about wraps up our chat, unless any of our readers have more questions. Phil, is there anything you would like to add that we haven't asked you?
Phil Maytubby 2:41 p.m. With more pleasant weather, people will probably be getting outdoors more - and we'd like for everyone to keep WNV in mind when they go out - take precautions by using insect repellant and dressing appropriately.
Armando 2:41 p.m. thank you for your insight!
Phil Maytubby 2:42 p.m. Thank you. We hope that everyone will help us get the message out about "Fighting the Bite!"
Jaclyn Cosgrove, NewsOK 2:43 p.m. I agree. Thanks so much for taking time to chat with us, Phil. We will have a full transcript on our website soon, and we will have a story later. Thanks to everyone who tuned into our chat.
Phil Maytubby 2:43 p.m. Thanks Jaclyn. We appreciate the opportunity.
by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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