West Nile Virus Found In Tulsa County Mosquitoes


Friday, June 9th 2017, 10:42 am
By: Amy Slanchik


The Tulsa Health Department has confirmed a sample of mosquitoes from a trap in Tulsa County has tested positive for West Nile virus.

In a news release, the health department says at this time, there have been no confirmed cases of the virus in humans in Tulsa County this year. 

They say the months of July through October are typically the highest risk months for exposure to West Nile Virus in Oklahoma, however, the Tulsa Health Department proactively begins a mosquito surveillance program each May.  

“Our mosquito surveillance program is vigilant in testing for West Nile virus,” said Bernard Dindy, Tulsa Health Department environmental health services program manager. 

“But more importantly, we work proactively to control the mosquito population by larviciding to kill the eggs before they become adults. We routinely test 50-60 pools weekly, and once a positive sample is identified we are aggressive in implementing mosquito control methods in the area and informing the public so they can protect themselves.”

The health department is spraying for mosquitoes.

"If they are up in the air it will kill them pretty much on contact," says Adam Austin of the health department. 

Keara Washington is spotting them. 

There was one on me  and I had to kill it," Washington says.

She lives in the area that tested positive for the West Nile Virus, from 46th to 56th Street North, between Peoria and Martin Luther King Boulevard.

Austin says in the sample that tested positive it's unclear exactly how many mosquitoes carried the virus. 

Right now, there are no human cases in the county. But last year there were five. In 2012, there were 31 cases. Five were deadly.

West Nile virus is spread through the bite of an infected mosquito, which feeds on infected birds and then transmits the virus when biting humans, horses, and some other mammals. 

Symptoms of WNV include sudden onset of fever, headache, dizziness, and muscle weakness. 

Officials say persons over the age of 50 are at greatest risk of developing severe neurologic disease from a West Nile Virus infection. 

Epidemiologist Luisa Krug says- the best way to avoid the virus is to avoid a bite. 

"DEET, long sleeves, long pants and avoiding standing water," she says.

While the area that tested positive was sprayed Thursday night, Austin says the department will be spraying throughout the county, and continue to trap and test all summer.