Broken Arrow battles West Nile virus

Sunday, August 18th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

The West Nile Virus has surfaced in Broken Arrow. The Tulsa City-County Health Department confirmed Friday three dead crows in the Western Part of Broken Arrow has tested positive for the deadly virus.

News on Six Reporter Patrina Adger went to Broken Arrow to find out what is being done to fight the problem.

Horse owners are worrie becuase the West Nile Virus is fatal to about 30% of the horses who get it.

Joe Blackburn who owns a racing stable in Broken Arrow where he breeds and races quarterhorses. He says all them are running horses and when they race, they can bring in anywhere from $2500 $25,000 each.

Blackburn says he's seen how Tulsa residents have battled mosquitoes and the threats of West Nile.

"But confirming the cases right here in your back door gets's a little scarier."

He lives in the 74012 zip code in Broken Arrow where al four cases of the deadly mosquito were found on Friday.

"Everything we have on the place has been vaccinnated. Hopefully it holds!"

He says he's seen a few dead sparrows around his farm, not the birds that typically carry the disease like crows, bluejays and hawks. He says the threat of West Nile could devastate his business.

" I'm sure they would quarantine my place and no telling how long they would be stuck here until they got it under control. We have an ambitious spraying program for mosquitoes that we've used here for a number of years."

Broken Arrow Communiations Coordinator Wayne Bishop says since the first case of West Nile case surfaced in Tulsa earlier this summer, crews with the spray unit have done five times more spraying than they have in past summers.

"And we anticipate, now with the dead birds affected we'll see even more calls."

Now- all Blackburn can do is wait for winter.

Anyone who finds dead birds should call Tulsa's Health Department at 595-4200.

You can also contact your city hall to check whether spraying is available in your neighborhood.

Meanwhile, the nation's human death toll is climbing. West Nile virus has claimed two more victims. One in Illinois, and one in Louisiana, bringing this year's nationwide death toll to 11.

A 67-year-old man was the first in Illinois to die FROM the virus. A 78-year-old Louisiana man became the eighth death in that state. Where 147 people are infected.

The Centers for Disease Control expects as many as a thousand people to be infected with the virus this year.