A Tulsa County man older than 65 is the eighth state resident to die this year because of West Nile virus, according to state Health Department data released Tuesday.
Since the beginning of the year, 127 cases of West Nile virus have been confirmed by the state Health Department.
Of the confirmed deaths, two were in Oklahoma County, three were in Tulsa County, one was in Seminole County and two were in Carter County.
Public health officials have recommended that residents take precautions to avoid mosquito bites.
West Nile virus is caused by a bite from an infected mosquito. More than 80 percent of people who are bitten by an infected mosquito do not contract the virus.
Of the people who become sick, most develop West Nile fever, with symptoms of headache, fever and fatigue, according to the health department. People older than 50 are at the highest risk of developing severe neurological disease after being infected with West Nile virus.
Nationwide, 1,993 cases have been reported so far this year, the highest number of West Nile virus disease cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through the first week in September since West Nile virus was first detected in the United States in 1999.
This year, Oklahoma has broken its record for the most confirmed cases of West Nile virus. West Nile virus is cyclical, peaking every three to four years. In 2007, the state saw 107 cases and nine deaths.
The Oklahoma State Fair begins Thursday, and public health officials are cautioning fairgoers to wear mosquito repellent with DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
Additionally, anyone spending time outdoors also should wear long sleeves and long pants to shield skin from mosquitoes.
It also is important for residents to remove standing water from their homes; standing water can serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
Residents of Oklahoma City and Oklahoma County can report stagnant water outside their property. To file a complaint about a mosquito habitat, residents can visit the complaints section of the Oklahoma City-County Health Department website or call the county health department's Consumer Protection division at 425-4347.