The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) is reporting the first three human cases of West Nile Virus (WNV) for the season. The cases were confirmed in residents of the Canadian counties, Grant and Tulsa.
The summer typically marks the start of the WNV season in Oklahoma, with outdoor activities offering opportunities to meet infected mosquitoes. Health officials are reminding the public to take precautions to avoid being bitten by an infected mosquito.
The WNV spreads through the bite of the Culex mosquito, which feeds on infected birds and transmits the virus by biting humans, horses and other mammals. This type of mosquito increases in number between mid and late summer, when temperatures rise and the climate is dry. Health officials expect the number of cases to increase with increasing temperatures during the summer.
OSDH provides the following suggestions for avoiding mosquito bites and preventing WNV:
Use an insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin or IR3535 on exposed skin and clothing when going outdoors, particularly between sunset and sunrise when mosquitoes are most likely to bite mosquitoes. Permethrin insect repellent should only be used on clothing.
Repair or install window and door screens to keep mosquitoes away.
It prevents objects such as buckets, cans, pool covers, flower pots, children's toys and tires from holding the water so that mosquitoes do not have a place to raise.
Empty the bowl of a pet's outside water and fill it every day.
Work and recharge bird baths every three days.
Regularly clean leaves and debris from gutters to make sure they are not blocked.
The symptoms of WNV vary widely depending on a person's risk for a more serious disease involving the central nervous system. Some may experience sudden fever, headache, dizziness and muscle weakness and recover within one or three weeks, while others develop meningitis or potentially lethal encephalitis that cause confusion, stupor, paralysis or coma.
Long-term complications of WNV disease can include difficulty concentrating, headache, extreme muscle weakness and tremors and limb paralysis. Those over the age of 50, diabetics or those with uncontrolled hypertension are at greater risk of developing a severe WNV neurological disease. There is no vaccine or therapeutic drug for the disease, so taking measures to avoid mosquito bites is the only defense.
For more information, visit the OSDH website at westnile.health.ok.gov.