Oklahoma West Nile virus-related deaths hit record high

The announcement of two more confirmed deaths in Oklahoma puts the state's West Nile virus-related death toll at 11, the highest number the state has seen since the virus entered the U.S. in 1999.
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Modified: October 16, 2012 at 6:31 pm •  Published: October 16, 2012

Until this year, 2007 held the record for highest number of West Nile confirmed cases and deaths, with 107 cases reported and nine deaths confirmed, according to the state Health Department.

For the next several weeks, residents still run the risk of contracting the virus, said Lauri Smithee, chief of acute disease service at the state Health Department.

Smithee, an epidemiologist, said it's important to continue using mosquito repellent and wear long-sleeve shirts and pants when going outside.

Also, it's important to remove stagnant water around the home, because it can serve as a mosquito breeding ground.

In Oklahoma, the West Nile season generally runs until mid-November. The Health Department has seen a decline in the number of cases reported since early September, Smithee said.

“Even though we are seeing a decline in the number of cases, we know the virus is still circulating out there,” she said. “People shouldn't let down their guard just because fewer cases are being reported.”

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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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