Tracking West Nile Virus

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

Right now in Oklahoma, the West Nile virus is confirmed to birds. Health officials say no human cases have been found in Oklahoma. But how would health officials know if a person contracted West Nile?

News on Six reporter Emory Bryan says as at the same time mosquitoes and birds are being monitored for the virus - people are being monitored too - through a complex system of reporting that involves hospital emergency rooms and even drug stores.

The Tulsa City-County Health Department monitors all this through a computerized network - the same kind of system used to track flu symptoms in the community. It relies on doctors and pharmacists to report symptoms they're seeing - and the drugs they're selling - even over the counter drug purchases are tracked.

Mosquitoes transmit West Nile - but people might not realize they have it - so if people began to buy drugs to treat West Nile symptoms - or if doctors starting treating cases that could be West Nile - it would show up in the system - and trigger a response.