Tulsa County Health Department Confirms West Nile Virus Diagnosis

Thursday, July 12th 2012, 12:55 pm
By: News On 6

On the heels of confirming that mosquitoes in Tulsa County have tested positive for West Nile virus, the Tulsa Health Department was notified Thursday that an area man over the age of 65 has been diagnosed with West Nile virus. 

According to Oklahoma State Epidemiologist Dr. Kristy Bradley, a second WNV diagnosis also has been reported in Pittsburg County.

"July typically marks the beginning of our high risk period for exposure to WNV in Oklahoma," Bradley said. "It is also a time when Oklahomans are busy with yard work, participating in outdoor recreational activities, or just relaxing on the patio."

"The first WNV case in a Pittsburgh County man and positive mosquito tests in Tulsa County are a reminder that WNV is here and precautions need to be taken to protect against the disease," said State Epidemiologist Dr. Kristy Bradley. 

A news release from the Tulsa County Health Department explained that West Nile virus is spread through the bite of the Culexmosquito, 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. Long-lasting complications can include difficulty concentrating, migraine headaches, extreme muscle weakness and tremors, and paralysis of a limb. If one or more of these symptoms develop, especially after suffering mosquito bites within the previous two weeks, a health care provider should be contacted.

Persons over the age of 50 are at greatest risk of developing severe neurological disease from WNV infection. Some of the neurological effects of WNV may be permanent.

The health department urges you to take these precautions against mosquito bites:

• Use an insect repellent containing DEET on exposed skin and clothing when you go outdoors, particularly if you are outside between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are more likely to bite. (Insect repellent with permethrin should be used on clothing only.)

• Repair or install window and door screens to keep mosquitoes out of your home.

• Prevent items such as buckets, cans, pool covers, flower pots, and tires from holding standing water so mosquitoes don't have a place to breed.

• Empty your pet's outdoor water bowl and refill daily.

• Clean leaves and debris from rain gutters regularly to ensure they are not clogged.

The Tulsa Health Department operates a mosquito-surveillance program using mosquito traps in various locations throughout Tulsa County in order to confirm when West Nile virus is present in the community.

The Tulsa Health Department also works to control mosquito populations during the spring and summer. In a typical mosquito season, THD sprays over 800 square miles for adult mosquitoes. To place a complaint about mosquitoes in your area, please call 918-595-4219.

For more information about West Nile virus prevention, visit the Tulsa Health Department website.