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West Nile virus season is over, Oklahoma Health Department official says

This past year, Oklahoma saw more cases of West Nile virus than in any year since the virus first entered the U.S. in 1999. In total, there have been 177 reported cases of the virus, with 12 confirmed deaths.
BY JACLYN COSGROVE Published: November 30, 2012

And unlike the flu, West Nile is cyclical, peaking every three to four years for reasons that aren't quite understood.

“In ideal world, we would be able to understand the importance of maintaining those resources more consistently and not just a reaction to a disease crisis,” Bradley said.

Keeping money around for mosquito surveillance isn't important only because of West Nile virus, Bradley said. There are other mosquito-borne viruses, such as Dengue fever, that could cause widespread illness similar to West Nile, Bradley said.

Dengue has emerged as a worldwide problem only since the 1950s, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dengue rarely occurs in the continental U.S. but is endemic in Puerto Rico, and in many popular tourist destinations in Latin America and Southeast Asia, according to the CDC. Chikungunya virus is not currently found in the U.S.

Having an active and funded mosquito surveillance program would allow the state to be more aware of West Nile virus, Dengue and other mosquito-borne illnesses, Bradley said.

“That had been the goal and overall objective in our program when we set it up — that we would have that understanding that it would have flexibility in case we needed to switch to another mosquito-borne disease,” Bradley said.


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