Oklahoma is one of five states that represent 75 percent of all West Nile virus cases that have been reported in the United States this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Thus far, Oklahoma has had 72 cases of West Nile virus and three deaths from the virus.
The state Health Department reported seven new confirmed cases Thursday. No additional deaths were confirmed this past week.
Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and South Dakota are the other four states seeing high rates of West Nile virus. Almost half of all cases have been reported from Texas, according to the CDC.
The state Health Department is warning residents that milder temperatures and rain in many parts of the state might provide conditions that could prompt an increased risk of mosquito bites and the potential for West Nile virus transmission.
“Oklahomans should not let their guard down when using insect repellent,” said State Health Commissioner Terry Cline in a news release. “Now that our state's extreme heat has lifted, more Oklahomans are likely to seek outdoor opportunities to enjoy the milder temperatures — attending school athletic events, working out in the yard, taking evening walks, or enjoying camping trips or excursions to the lake. But with the welcomed rain in many areas of the state, there are now more opportunities for standing water for mosquitoes to breed. I urge everyone to continue to use insect repellent when outdoors and keep a can in your car or travel bag for reapplication as necessary.”
Common symptoms of West Nile fever include headache, fever, and extreme muscle weakness, occasionally accompanied by vomiting or skin rashes.
On a national level, there have been 1,118 West Nile virus cases reported in 2012. That is the highest number of West Nile virus cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through the third week in August since West Nile virus was first detected in the U.S. in 1999.
There are three counties that have seen double digits of West Nile virus cases in 2012, with Oklahoma County at 20 cases, Tulsa County at 16 cases and Carter County with 11 cases.