Protecting yourself against the West Nile virus

Monday, July 12th 2004, 10:27 am
By: News On 6

The West Nile virus is kicking into full gear. This is the season for the mosquito born virus.

The Tulsa City-County Health Department has tested 40 birds so far this year; some of them have come up positive for the disease.

News on 6 reporter Patrina Adger says Mike Richards was trimming the trees around his midtown Tulsa home one afternoon when he says he found a dead blue jay in his backyard. "I put it in a bag and put it in the freezer and they came and got it and about two or three weeks later they told me it was positive."

The bird tested positive for the mosquito-born, West Nile virus. The health department's Janice Sheehan says that bird is one of 13 birds in Oklahoma that tested positive for the disease so far this year, 8 of those birds were found in Tulsa County alone. "We're really getting started now, our first cases don't come in until July and we got some earlier than that."

Sheehan says if you ever find a bird in your back yard, don't touch it. Instead, call the health department right away so it can be tested. "The bird has to be fresh.” She says the health department is out every evening spraying area neighborhoods to decrease the mosquito population.

As for Mike Richard, he says he's doing his part to control the mosquitoes around his home. "That's the only bird you've found so far, hopefully the last."

Health officials say you should remember the 4 D's of Defense to protect yourself from West Nile. Dusk and Dawn, avoid outdoor activities during these times of the day when mosquito activity is high. Next, Drain all items around your home that has standing water; don't give any places for mosquitoes to lay new eggs. DEET, use an insect repellent containing DEET to spray your clothing and exposed skin. Dress appropriately and wear long pants and long sleeves to cover your skin.