Oklahoma could see increase in West Nile virus

The state Health Department warns Oklahomans to take precautions this summer against West Nile virus, a mosquito-borne illness.
From Staff Reports Modified: July 12, 2012 at 8:33 pm •  Published: July 13, 2012

Two Oklahoma men have contracted West Nile virus this year, leading state health officials to warn residents to take preventive measures to combat the virus.

Although there have been few West Nile virus cases in Oklahoma over the past three years, the state could have a more severe season this year, said Kristy Bradley, a state Health Department epidemiologist.

“July typically marks the beginning of our high-risk period for exposure to WNV in Oklahoma. It is also a time when Oklahomans are busy with yard work, participating in outdoor recreational activities or just relaxing on the patio,” Bradley said.

“All of these activities provide possible encounters with WNV-infected mosquitoes, so we want to remind everyone to use insect repellent when outdoors and mosquito-proof their home and yard.”

The state Health Department confirmed that a man in Pittsburg County in southeast Oklahoma has contracted West Nile virus. The Tulsa Health Department confirmed on Thursday that a 65-year-old Tulsa County man was diagnosed with West Nile virus.

The Tulsa Health Department also reported that mosquitoes in Tulsa County have begun to test positive for West Nile virus.

West Nile virus is spread through the bite of the Culex mosquito, which feeds on infected birds and then transmits the virus when biting humans, horses and some other mammals, according to the state Health Department.

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Mosquito precautions

Use an insect repellent containing DEET on exposed skin and clothing when you go outdoors, particularly between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are more likely to bite. Insect repellent with permethrin should be used on clothing only.

Repair or install window and door screens to keep mosquitoes out of your home.

Prevent items such as buckets, cans, pool covers, flower pots and tires from holding standing water so mosquitoes don't have a place to breed.

Empty your pet's outdoor water bowl and refill daily.

Clean leaves and debris from rain gutters to ensure they don't clog and allow water to pool.

Oklahoma Health Department

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