Confirmation of West Nile virus cases expected Friday

Thursday, August 1st 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ The state Health Department says it expects confirmation Friday on how many birds in Oklahoma have tested positive for West Nile virus.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is testing Oklahoma's samples, which showed signs of West Nile virus in preliminary tests.

According to the Health Department, the presumed-positive birds include two crows, a cardinal, warbler, yellow-billed cuckoo, barred owl, American robin and two blue jays.

State public health veterinarian Kristy Bradley, who is in charge of West Nile surveillance in Oklahoma, said the state lab has received 348 birds, 235 of which were in good enough condition to be tested.

Due to the high volume, the lab is limiting tests to blue jays, crows, hawks and owls, she said.

None of the 33 horses that have been tested has had West Nile virus, Bradley said.

``I am anticipating that in the next few weeks we may see our first case in a horse,'' she said.

Mosquitoes that have fed on infected birds can carry the virus. It is spread only by mosquitoes and cannot be transmitted from one human to another or from animals to humans.

Symptoms of West Nile virus include fever, headache and body aches, much like the flu.

Children younger than 5 and people who are older than 50 and who have health problems are most at risk for severe infections, which can lead to headache, high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, convulsions and sometimes death.

No humans in the state are known to have the virus.