Number Of West Nile Virus Cases In Oklahoma Climbs To 144

Tuesday, September 18th 2012, 1:41 pm
By: Craig Day

While the number of deaths in Oklahoma attributed to West Nile virus remained unchanged from last week, the number of cases of the virus jumped from 133 last Thursday to 144 on Tuesday.

The Oklahoma Department of Health, in its twice-weekly report on West Nile virus, shows 11 more cases in just four days.

Most of the cases of West Nile are in Oklahoma, Tulsa, Carter and Pittsburg counties.

Oklahoma County has had 48 cases so far this year with two deaths. In Tulsa County, there have been 30 cases of West Nile virus with three deaths reported.

Our rain in some places overnight has created more breeding grounds for mosquitos, which could mean West Nile season could linger a little longer.

The Tulsa Health Department is busy each week checking 75 mosquito traps countywide.

The encouraging news, during a record breaking year for West Nile virus, over the last four weeks, is that they're finding fewer mosquitos now than they were over the summer.

"The larger the mosquito population, the more potential mosquitos that could carry the West Nile virus, even though it's only one percent of the population," said John Baker of THD.

9/13/2012 Related Story: More West Nile Virus Cases Confirmed In Oklahoma

Right now the mosquito population in Tulsa County has dropped 50 percent from its peak in mid-July.

But there's also some not so good news: The recent rain could change that.

"As long as they have a standing water source for at least seven to ten days, that population can resurge," Baker said.

Baker said the Health Department doesn't want anyone to get complacent with safety precautions.

The trap from 15th between Sheridan and Memorial, checked and emptied just a day ago, already has 15 mosquitos in it because of recent spotty rains.

Baker said that underscores that the season for the virus isn't over yet.

"[As] September ends and October begins, we generally have a lot of rain under normal conditions, so every rain event still can have the possibility of creating habitat for mosquitos," he said.

OSDH West Nile Virus Information By County

In Oklahoma, Baker said mosquito season can run until the end of October.

He said what the state really needs is temperatures in the 40s, and until then, people need to be diligent about taking precautions

"Keeping a normal, warm, wet weather pattern for the next six weeks, we would encourage citizens to continue to survey their backyards after every rain event," Baker said.

Tulsa County will continue to test mosquitos through the month of October.

They spray in a square mile area of where mosquitos or people test positive for West Nile and in areas getting the most complaints on a mosquito hotline.

The number for that hotline is 918-595-4219.

Complete West Nile Virus coverage