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West Nile virus activity remains low in Oklahoma

Oklahoma’s first case of West Nile was confirmed in early July in a Major County resident older than 50 who was hospitalized because of symptoms of the virus. Since then, the state Health Department has not confirmed any other West Nile virus activity in humans.
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Modified: August 15, 2014 at 10:00 am •  Published: August 14, 2014

This time two years ago, Oklahoma was in the middle of the worst year of West Nile virus the state had seen.

A total of 55 cases of West Nile disease were confirmed in 14 counties, and one person had died.

However, so far this year, Oklahoma has seen only one confirmed human case.

State epidemiologist Kristy Bradley said this year’s West Nile season illustrates how cyclical the virus can be.

“We have seen this in previous years that follow a more severe outbreak of West Nile virus where, in the year or two following, it’s deeply declined with very low incidence for a couple of years before it starts to rise again,” Bradley said.

Oklahoma’s first case of West Nile was confirmed in early July in a Major County resident older than 50 who was hospitalized because of symptoms of the virus. Since then, the state Health Department has not confirmed any other West Nile virus activity in humans.

Oklahoma is among 17 states where a person has developed neuroinvasive disease as a result of West Nile, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Overall, 23 states and the District of Colombia have reported West Nile virus infections in humans this season.

Last year, 84 cases of West Nile were confirmed among Oklahoma residents, including eight residents who died. Meanwhile, in 2012, the state saw 176 cases and 15 deaths, the worst West Nile season the state has on record.

West Nile virus is most commonly transmitted to humans by mosquitoes. Horses are also at risk, although there is a vaccine for them. There is no West Nile vaccine for humans.

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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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At a glance

Tips to avoid mosquitoes

Wear insect repellant containing an active ingredient such as 10 to 30 percent DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus, on exposed skin and clothing when outdoors.

Prevent standing water by emptying buckets and tarps.

If rainwater is collected, cover and seal containers when not collecting rain.

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

Rinse, scrub and refill birdbaths weekly.

Empty plastic wading pools weekly and store indoors when not in use.

Maintain swimming pools and outdoor hot tubs regularly as recommended by manufacturer.

Store boats covered or upside down.

For a water garden or ornamental body of water, use an environmentally safe product to kill the mosquito larvae, or stock with fish that eat mosquito larvae.

Regularly clean fallen leaves and debris from roof gutters.

Trim grass and weeds and dismantle brush to deprive mosquitoes of a habitat.

Repair or replace all broken or torn window and door screens.

Repair leaky lawn irrigation spouts.

Source: State Health Department

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