Tulsa Health Department Ramps Up Fight Against Zika Virus

Wednesday, May 18th 2016, 5:43 pm
By: News On 6

Oklahoma's health departments are trying to protect residents from the mosquito-borne Zika virus.

The Centers for Disease Control lists Oklahoma as one of the states at risk.

The Tulsa Health Department has put up special traps to catch mosquitoes prone to carrying the Zika virus.

The department has them in places across the county, and they say when one fills up with about 50 mosquitoes, that's when they know something needs to be done.

The Tulsa County Health Department is gearing up for the fight against Zika.

"The Zika virus mosquito bites during the daytime; the mosquito that carries West Nile is more active in the evening and at nighttime,” THD’s Scott Meador said.

According to the CDC Oklahoma is home to the species of mosquito called the Adese, which carries Zika -- the same mosquito that can also spread the Dengue virus and Chickunguyuh.

Now the Tulsa County Health Department is on the lookout for those specific types of bloodsuckers by running an experiment in its back yard.

While the high winds and cool weather have kept the mosquito population down, the health department has noticed a trend.

“This one is teaming with larvae from mosquitoes and this one hasn't taken off yet," Meador said.

Dirty water tends to attract the most mosquitoes, while clean water is generally pest free.

“So this is where coming up, cleaning out the water, refreshing it every five to seven days can really help out with the mosquito population," Meador said.

Right now there is no test for Zika virus in mosquitoes, but the health department says they'll be monitoring numbers when the population ramps up, along with their spraying schedules.

They're also asking for the public to do its part.

“We're really looking for people to dump out any standing water, eliminate any hiding places where the mosquitoes may be,” Meador said.

So far, all of the cases of Zika virus diagnosed in Oklahoma have been contracted on visits outside of the country.