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Ninth Oklahoman dies from West Nile virus-related illness

Oklahoma has had a record-breaking number of cases of West Nile virus this year. Public health officials recommend residents continue using mosquito repellent.
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Modified: September 27, 2012 at 10:05 pm •  Published: September 27, 2012

Public health officials recommend residents wear mosquito repellent with DEET or another approved active ingredient such as Picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus.

It's important to remove standing or stagnant water from around your home, for it can serve as a mosquito breeding ground.

Bradley said even though the season is on the decline, people who were infected by the virus have a long road ahead of them.

“A certain proportion of our persons that became ill in late July and August have been very, very ill, and they've remained hospitalized or remained in a rehabilitation facility and may not be able to completely recover from this illness,” Bradley said.

West Nile virus can cause severe neurological disorders, affecting a person's ability to swallow and walk. Because of its paralytic effect, patients are susceptible to other illness, such as aspiration pneumonia, she said.

Bradley said patients who don't develop the severe neurological disease can still suffer long-term complications, such as involuntarily tremors, trouble concentrating and new-onset depression.

“There will be some ongoing medical as well as psychological resources that will need to be made available in our state because of this outbreak,” Bradley said.

As for what the state can expect next year, Bradley said there's some seasonal data that may offer insight.

“We would probably expect that it would be a milder season next year because we tend to see these outbreaks every three to four years,” she said. “A lot of times, you see in an area where there's been a significant outbreak, the incidence drops for two or three years.”

She said areas that were hit hard this year, such as Carter County, Pittsburg County and Oklahoma County, might see fewer cases than counties in western Oklahoma, which didn't see very many cases of West Nile virus this year.

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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