TULSA — Mosquitoes in Tulsa County have tested positive for West Nile, the first sign that the virus is active again in Oklahoma.
Tulsa Health Department officials announced Thursday that through its mosquito surveillance program, they identified West Nile in a sample of mosquitoes.
“Our mosquito surveillance program is vigilant in testing for West Nile virus,” said Bernard Dindy, Tulsa Health Department environmental health services supervisor, in a news release. “We routinely test 50 to 60 pools weekly, and once a positive sample is identified we are aggressive in spraying the area and informing the public so they can protect themselves.”
No other county in the state has reported mosquitoes that test positive for West Nile. However, only a few counties have mosquito surveillance programs, including Tulsa, Oklahoma, Carter and Pittsburg County, said Lauri Smithee, director of the acute disease service at the state Health Department.
By this time last year, Oklahoma had seen 14 confirmed cases of West Nile virus.
In 2012, the first two cases of West Nile virus were reported by mid-July. By the end of August, Oklahoma had seen 101 confirmed cases of West Nile virus and five deaths. That number grew to 178 confirmed cases and 15 deaths, the largest number of confirmed West Nile virus cases and deaths that Oklahoma had seen since the virus entered the U.S. in 1999.
Carter County in south-central Oklahoma had the highest rate per capita of reported West Nile virus cases, at 34 cases per 100,000 people. Pittsburg County in southeast Oklahoma had the second highest rate, at 26 cases per 100,000 people.
About the virus
Symptoms of West Nile fever include sudden onset of fever, headache, nausea, dizziness and muscle weakness, according to the Health Department. Swollen lymph glands or a skin rash also can occur with West Nile fever.
A person suffering from the serious neurological symptoms of West Nile virus might suffer from high fever, headache, stiff neck, mental confusion or disorientation, numbness, convulsions and coma. Anyone with these symptoms should seek medical attention, especially within two weeks of receiving mosquito bites.
Oklahoma County public health workers are conducting mosquito surveillance cross the county, gathering mosquitoes and testing them for West Nile virus, officials said.
So far, no mosquitoes have tested positive for West Nile virus, said Cynthia Harry, an epidemiologist at the Oklahoma City-County Health Department.
Residents of Oklahoma City and Oklahoma County also can report sources of stagnant water outside their own property. Residents can file complaints about mosquito habitat through the Oklahoma City-County Health Department website or by calling the health department's consumer protection division at 425-4347.
About West Nile virus
West Nile virus is a mosquito-
Our mosquito surveillance program is vigilant in testing for West Nile virus.”
Tulsa Health Department